Intel just unveiled a beastly 56-core, 112-thread CPU, but it's not for gaming (yet)

It's barely been two months since Intel unveiled its Xeon W-3175X, a 28-core/56-thread processor that, at the time, was its biggest and baddest slice of silicon to date. Not anymore. Intel today lifted the curtain on its Xeon Platinum 9200 series, and while it may not qualify as one of the best CPUs for gaming, the top model is an even bigger and badder processor with a whopping 56 cores and 112 threads to hammer workloads.

If the massive core count is not a big enough clue, the Xeon nomenclature indicates that this is destined for servers and datacenters, not gaming PCs and home consumers. That said, it's not as though core and thread counts are shrinking—AMD already offers a 32-core/64-thread Threadripper processor for enthusiasts, and there are rumblings of a 64-core/128-thread being in the wings with AMD's upcoming Zen 2 refresh.

Nevertheless, this is a datacenter product, and so we're not all that concerned with all of the nitty-gritty details (our friends at Anandtech have a deeper dive into all of Intel's datacenter announcements, if you're interested). However, what does catch our attention is the underlying architecture.

The Xeon Platinum 9200 is a Cascade Lake product. On the server side, Cascade Lake-SP supplants Intel's Skylake-SP series, and on the enthusiast side, Cascade Lake-X will supersede Skylake-X. In essence, we are getting our first real glimpse of what's to come on the other side of the fence.

That's not to say Intel will launch a 56-core Cascade Lake-X processor. It won't, or at least is not unlikely to. However, it's reasonable to expect that whatever lands at the top of the Cascade Lake-X stack will at least match (and likely exceed) the 18-cores and 36 threads on Intel's Core i9-9980XE Extreme Edition that currently occupies the top spot.

As for the Xeon lineup, here's what we're looking at:

  • Xeon Platinum 9282: 56C/112T, 2.6GHz to 3.8GHz, 77MB cache, 400W TDP
  • Xeon Platinum 9242: 48C/96T, 2.3GHz to 3.8GHz, 71.5MB cache, 350W TDP
  • Xeon Platinum 9222: 32C/64T, 2.3GHz to 3.7GHz, 71.5MB cache, 250W TDP
  • Xeon Platinum 9221: 32C/64T, 2.1GHz to 3.7GHz, 71.5MB cache, 250W TDP

As you can see, all of those additional cores and threads come at the expense of clockspeeds. In this case, the Xeon Platinum 9282 has a 2.6GHz base clock and 3.8GHz boost clock, with a 400W TDP. The aforementioned Core i9-9980XE, meanwhile, runs at 3GHz to 4.4GHz, with a more manageable (for the home) 165W TDP.

Also notable is that the Xeon Platinum 9200 doubles the amount of cache per socket, for a total of 77MB. It also features 12-channel DDR4 memory support.

How much of that ports over to the consumer side remains to be seen. We may find out soon—rumor has it Cascade Lake-X will launch at Computex.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).