Intel delays production of Sapphire Rapids server processors until early 2022

Production of the Sapphire Rapids server processors will begin in the first quarter of 2022 and begin production in the second quarter of that year, Intel says. This moves the roadmap three months ahead. Sapphire Rapids is due to be released in late 2021.

According to Intel, Sapphire Rapids is in high demand, but more time is needed to validate the improvements brought by the new generation of server processors. The production plans have therefore shifted by a quarter compared to previous roadmaps.

Engineering samples of Sapphire Rapids processors are already circulating among system builders. The processors and accompanying Eagle Stream platform will use DDR5 and PCIe 5.0, both of which are firsts. The delay may have to do with validation.

The Sapphire Rapids generation is made on Intel’s 10nm Enhanced SuperFin process. That is a further improvement of the 10nm process that Intel previously used in the Ice Lake server processors. Sapphire Rapids will be available for systems with 1 to 8 sockets.

Currently, Intel has 1 to 4 socket server processors in the Ice Lake generation that are made at 10nm and 14nm variants of the Cooper Lake generation for 4 to 8 socket configurations. The new Eagle Stream platform for Sapphire Rapids should equalize that again to one generation for all variants.

On Monday , Intel announced that there will also be variants of the Sapphire Rapids processors with integrated High Bandwith Memory. These HBM variants will be released after the regular versions are available.

When the Sapphire Rapids processors come out, they will compete with AMD’s EPYC 7003 server processors, which are made at 7nm and were announced in March this year. The 5nm Zen4 Genoa generation of the EPYC processors is also planned for 2022.

With its EPYC processors, AMD is currently gaining ground in servers, data centers and supercomputers. AMD notes that the latest edition of the Top500 supercomputers list now includes 49 systems with AMD processors. Six months ago, that was 21 systems. Compared to June last year, the number of AMD systems in the Top500 has increased almost tenfold.