Intel announces 'Purley' Xeon processors, possibly destined for Apple's iMac Pro

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited July 2017
Intel has taken the wraps off of its Purley series of Xeon processors, and it appears that there are a few candidates for possible processors that could be included in Apple's iMac Pro, slated to launch this December.




Intel revealed 50 different Xeon chips on Tuesday, and in doing so replaced the older E5 and E7 lines built on the Haswell architecture. While the new chips are aimed at the data center, the Xeon chips in the Mac Pro line were as well.

What specific chips will be used?

Intel has grouped the chips by two different sets of criteria -- one precious metal themed, and the other ranging from best performance to most energy efficient. Presumably, for a computer intended for raw performance, Apple will use either chips balanced for power efficiency and performance, or the highest performance chips possible.

The 10-year processors, and the Omni-Path Architecture chips are likely not suitable for workstations, and are not included.

High performance options

There are two eight-core chips in the highest performing tier -- the gold-rated 6134, and the 6144. The former is a $2200 3.2 GHz chip, and the latter a 3.5 GHz chip with a price as yet unavailable.

There are no 10-core processors available from Intel at this time in the high performance chip range.

As far as 18-core processors go, there are two options. One is the $3358 2.7 GHz 6150, and the other is the 3.0 GHz 6154 which is also unpriced. Intel considers both processors to be classified as gold chips.

Balanced performance and power efficiency choices

The lone silver chip on our roundup in the balanced offerings is the $510 eight-core 4110 processor, running at 2.1 GHz. There is also a single 10-core processor, the gold-rated 5115 for $1221 per chip, running at 2.4 GHz.

The only 18-core processor in the class is the 6140 running at 2.3 GHz, and retailing at $2450 per chip at volume.

Why Purley, and not existing Xeon processors?

Purley has been Intel's codename for its architecture meant for processors destined for high-intensity tasks like those found in data centers, rather than for the relatively smaller work loads of single-user desktops. A core feature of Purley processors is its use of a mesh-based architecture that replaces the ring architecture Intel has used in its Xeon processors for the last eight years, with the switch aimed at decreasing latency in systems with many processors and cores.

Purley effectively allows for up to 28 cores to run on a single LGA3647 motherboard socket, with support for up to 8 sockets to work together in the same computer -- which may have implications for the future Mac Pro. This inter-core connectivity lends itself to computationally intensive tasks, including artificial intelligence, simulations, encryption, and other high-demand applications.

While the iMac Pro will use Mail, and iTunes fine, that use case is really not the point of the machine.

Markers in High Sierra point to Purley

High Sierra code found in June points to Apple's future use of Intel's LGA3647 socket, the server-grade component reserved for the Purley Xeon platform. Purley is the evolution and consolidation of the Haswell-based Xeon E5 and E7 platforms and supports the new high-end Skylake class Xeon silicon.

The information in June, and in Tuesday's official release of data on the Purley line, dovetails with Apple's previous announcement at WWDC that the iMac Pro would have an 8-, 10-, or 18-core Xeon processor.




Note the singular use of the word "processor." At this juncture, it does not appear that the iMac Pro will have more than one processor chip.

If Apple used the E5 and E7 Xeon platforms, it could have shipped the iMac Pro already, and it would cost the same and perform slightly worse, given the price and speed of the E5 and E7 chips.

The only real reason for Apple to wait until December for the iMac Pro is supply and availability of Purley.

More proof the iMac Pro is going to be pricey




Apple came under fire when it revealed the $4999 price of the iMac Pro. That was tempered somewhat when enthusiasts started breaking down component pricing, and had difficulty matching the actual components known to be included even in piecemeal builds.

Pricing on the Purley processors range from $213 to $10,009 -- not all that different from E5 and E7 Haswell-based Xeon chips available for the last year or so. But, Xeon pricing remains above and beyond Kaby Lake processor pricing.

The iMac Pro may be starting at just under $5000, but at the high end based on processor and storage prices alone $15,000 may not be out of the question.



Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,215member
    These are designed to compete against AMD EPYC and Threadripper upcoming first and secondary versions. By the time these roll out Apple would be wise to use the Zen+ with Thunderbolt already added on. And dump Intel.
  • Reply 2 of 14
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,381member
    I would much rather have two 6 or 8 core Xeons than one 12 or 16 core xeon. The lesser core chips will perform better, as they tend to have higher operating frequencies, due to the smaller number of cores. That extends to turbo mode as well. So 6 core chips could be an entire Ghz above a 12 core chip. For most work, that’s much better. And with two of them, you get advantages of more cores, and higher speeds.

    8 core chips often have speeds that are the same as the 6 core chips, or just a very small amount lower. So the same situation applies.

    for most anything other than heavy high def video rendering, Less higher speed cores are better than more cores at lower speeds.

    this is analogous to Apple’s A series of chips, where they are much higher in performance per core, but with fewer cores. For almost all tasks, including multitasking, they’re better.
    Avieshekwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 14
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,758member
    melgross said:
    I would much rather have two 6 or 8 core Xeons than one 12 or 16 core xeon. The lesser core chips will perform better, as they tend to have higher operating frequencies, due to the smaller number of cores. That extends to turbo mode as well. So 6 core chips could be an entire Ghz above a 12 core chip. For most work, that’s much better. And with two of them, you get advantages of more cores, and higher speeds.

    8 core chips often have speeds that are the same as the 6 core chips, or just a very small amount lower. So the same situation applies.

    for most anything other than heavy high def video rendering, Less higher speed cores are better than more cores at lower speeds.

    this is analogous to Apple’s A series of chips, where they are much higher in performance per core, but with fewer cores. For almost all tasks, including multitasking, they’re better.
    Perhaps this is something Apple will do with the Mac Pro to separate itself from an iMac Pro? Apple has set the bar pretty high with the iMac Pro so the Mac Pro should be something way above an iMac Pro I think. 
    watto_cobra1983
  • Reply 4 of 14
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,381member
    macxpress said:
    melgross said:
    I would much rather have two 6 or 8 core Xeons than one 12 or 16 core xeon. The lesser core chips will perform better, as they tend to have higher operating frequencies, due to the smaller number of cores. That extends to turbo mode as well. So 6 core chips could be an entire Ghz above a 12 core chip. For most work, that’s much better. And with two of them, you get advantages of more cores, and higher speeds.

    8 core chips often have speeds that are the same as the 6 core chips, or just a very small amount lower. So the same situation applies.

    for most anything other than heavy high def video rendering, Less higher speed cores are better than more cores at lower speeds.

    this is analogous to Apple’s A series of chips, where they are much higher in performance per core, but with fewer cores. For almost all tasks, including multitasking, they’re better.
    Perhaps this is something Apple will do with the Mac Pro to separate itself from an iMac Pro? Apple has set the bar pretty high with the iMac Pro so the Mac Pro should be something way above an iMac Pro I think. 
    I hope so. But one of the reasons I didn’t buy the 2013 model, was that they just offered one CPU with varying numbers of cores. I ended up, more recently, buying a refurbished 2012 Mac Pro with 2 6 core Xeons running at 3.47GHz. These are the specs for the 2013 model. You can see how each of the cores slow down as more are added. The 12 core runs at just 2.7GHz.

    • 3.7GHz Quad-Core
      • Intel Xeon E5 with 10MB L3 cache and Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
        Configurable to 3.5GHz 6-core processor with 12MB L3 cache, 3.0GHz 8-core processor with 25MB L3 cache, or 2.7GHz 12-core processor with 30MB L3 cache
    • 3.5GHz 6-Core
      • Intel Xeon E5 with 12MB L3 cache and Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
        Configurable to 3.0GHz 8-core processor with 25MB L3 cache or 2.7GHz 12-core processor with 30MB L3 cache
    • 3.0GHz 8-Core
      • Intel Xeon E5 with 25MB L3 cache and Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
        Configurable to 2.7GHz 12-core processor with 30MB L3 cache
    Avieshekwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 14
    This chip was actually designed for Microsoft, and nicknamed The Purley Gates.
    Avieshek
  • Reply 6 of 14
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,706member
    redacted
    edited July 2017
  • Reply 7 of 14
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,381member
    lkrupp said:
    redacted
    Redacted? What, is it TOP SECRET?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 14
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 328member
    The real question is "Why Xeon at all?"

    For tasks like video editing, people won't care about ECC RAM or IPMI, so the core count is the only thing you gain over an i7.

    And for servers (I'm pretty well resigned to having to install at least one of these as a server, because Apple won't build anything else and somebody's critical server is going to fail before we get a new Mac Pro; that's going to be the most beautiful console screen nobody is ever going to look at) the ECC is great, but it's probably not going to have IPMI hooked up, only has one ethernet port, and ALL of the storage is going to have to be in external boxes.

    I really want a new Mac mini server for my really small business clients, and a new (real) Mac Pro for the bigger ones.  I don't care about graphics cards.  I don't care about big screens.  I'd love to have a new XServe, but I don't expect that, just give me something suitable for server use.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 9 of 14
    lkrupp said:
    redacted


    Just make sure you don't get sued!

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 14
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,695member
    These are designed to compete against AMD EPYC and Threadripper upcoming first and secondary versions. By the time these roll out Apple would be wise to use the Zen+ with Thunderbolt already added on. And dump Intel.
    I do wish that Apple would consider AMD for at least some Mac Models.   First off they would be able to offer performance at a better price.   Second having a big customer like Apple drop intel exclusivity would send a strong message to Intel to get back on track.  

    My personal desire if for a Zen APU in a Mac Mini replacement.    If not that then a refactored Mac Pro targeted at the mainstream desktop market, this machine would have at least a 6 core Zen and one video card.     I'm simply not in the market for a high performance machine with dozens of cores, 6-8 cores will keep me for a long while.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 14
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,695member

    darkvader said:
    The real question is "Why Xeon at all?"

    For tasks like video editing, people won't care about ECC RAM or IPMI, so the core count is the only thing you gain over an i7.

    And for servers (I'm pretty well resigned to having to install at least one of these as a server, because Apple won't build anything else and somebody's critical server is going to fail before we get a new Mac Pro; that's going to be the most beautiful console screen nobody is ever going to look at) the ECC is great, but it's probably not going to have IPMI hooked up, only has one ethernet port, and ALL of the storage is going to have to be in external boxes.

    I really want a new Mac mini server for my really small business clients, and a new (real) Mac Pro for the bigger ones.  I don't care about graphics cards.  I don't care about big screens.  I'd love to have a new XServe, but I don't expect that, just give me something suitable for server use.
    First off core count can be a huge factor for some people.   However I'm ore concerned about a good balance between core count and high performance per core; frankly Intel doesn't seem to be in the ball park here.   Hopefully Purley puts Intel back on base.

    Hey many of us want a more up to date Mini.    How we will arrive at that machine seems to be a mystery as there has been zero leakage as to what Apple is planning in this space.    Currently Mini's biggest problem is value, it is just a tad expensive for what you get.    This is why I'm in the AMD ball park for the Mini, Apple should be able to ship an interesting machine at a reasonable price going AMD.

    Either AMD or Apple goes ARM in a Mini replacement.  All Apple needs here is an optimized SoC for desktop usage.    Imagine an A10X or A11 running at 3 or 4 GHz, with an enlarged cache and wider memory channels.    I really think this is the future for Apple as they can drive AI functionality into the SoC which will rapidly become a requirement in every computing device.

    Actually the Mac Pro wouldn't be too bad as a server if you could get it setup properly.   That would mean getting rid of the expensive workstation GPU cards and supplying the platform wit at least one more SSD slot.    Sell the thing for $1500 and bank money.


  • Reply 12 of 14
    Probably important to keep in mind the pricing of the comparison PC builds people were doing -- the CPU of choice in those was the 8-core E5-2620 v4 at $417.

    Very few of these are even remotely in that ballpark, and none of the Gold 61xx series. So I think you are looking at the following possible progressions:

    Base $4999 iMac Pro = 8-core Silver 4108 @ $417 or 8-core Silver 4110 @ $501 -- both are 85W TDP. 

    Upgrade to 10-core Silver 4114 @ $694 or 10-core Gold 5115 @ $1221 -- both are 85W TDP.

    If I had to bet, I'd say the 4110 and the 5115. Cleaner differentiation (+$700).

    EDIT: Special Edition: 18-core Gold 6140 @ $2445 -- 140W TDP. But really this is not like the others, so we'll just have to see if there isn't an as-yet unannounced 18-core Gold (or Platinum!) unit that better fits the bill. Note that the 5124/6124 SKU is open at about the right price point (+$1400).
    edited July 2017
  • Reply 13 of 14
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,381member
    darkvader said:
    The real question is "Why Xeon at all?"

    For tasks like video editing, people won't care about ECC RAM or IPMI, so the core count is the only thing you gain over an i7.

    And for servers (I'm pretty well resigned to having to install at least one of these as a server, because Apple won't build anything else and somebody's critical server is going to fail before we get a new Mac Pro; that's going to be the most beautiful console screen nobody is ever going to look at) the ECC is great, but it's probably not going to have IPMI hooked up, only has one ethernet port, and ALL of the storage is going to have to be in external boxes.

    I really want a new Mac mini server for my really small business clients, and a new (real) Mac Pro for the bigger ones.  I don't care about graphics cards.  I don't care about big screens.  I'd love to have a new XServe, but I don't expect that, just give me something suitable for server use.
    Nobody is saying that you have to want this. EEC RAM doesn’t have to be used, but none of the RAM can be mixed, so it’s either all ECC, or no ECC.

    as Apple stated that the new Mac Pro would be modular, and upgradable, I doubt it will be what you think it will. As far as servers go, what are your needs? They vary all over. For some uses, a Mini is great. hotels and cruise ships use them. If you need virtualization, you need multiple core machines, possibly even dual socket. Transactions processing, or file serving? A mail server, of one for music and video? They’re all different.
    edited July 2017
  • Reply 14 of 14
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,381member
    wizard69 said:
    These are designed to compete against AMD EPYC and Threadripper upcoming first and secondary versions. By the time these roll out Apple would be wise to use the Zen+ with Thunderbolt already added on. And dump Intel.
    I do wish that Apple would consider AMD for at least some Mac Models.   First off they would be able to offer performance at a better price.   Second having a big customer like Apple drop intel exclusivity would send a strong message to Intel to get back on track.  

    My personal desire if for a Zen APU in a Mac Mini replacement.    If not that then a refactored Mac Pro targeted at the mainstream desktop market, this machine would have at least a 6 core Zen and one video card.     I'm simply not in the market for a high performance machine with dozens of cores, 6-8 cores will keep me for a long while.
    AMD is simply too unreliable. For graphics chips, sure, but for CPUs? No. We’re just now seeing them have comparable performance in some areas. What happens when intel responds to these new chips? Apple is better off staying with one company, and that’s not AMD.
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