New Intel Xeon W Processors Offer Massive Performance Boosts For High-End Desktops And Workstations

New Intel Xeon W Processors Offer Massive Performance Boosts For High-End Desktops And Workstations

Intel used to subdivide its desktop processors into two segments, one that targeted mainstream consumers and another that targeted high-end enthusiast and pro-workstation users. Mainstream parts typically used a smaller socket and featured more subdued specifications, while high-end desktop – or HEDT – parts went all-out, with more cores, additional memory channels, and IO technologies carried over from the server segment. For the last few generations, however, Intel hasn’t updated its HEDT line-up, instead favoring its reinvigorated mainstream segment, which offer massive performance uplifts, thanks to their updated, high-performance hybrid architectures. That is no longer the case though, with the just-introduced Xeon W series.

The new Xeon W series of processors propels Intel backs into the HEDT space after a multi-year absence. The Xeon W series leverages the design of Intel’s recently-released Sapphire Rapids server processors, but tailors it for high-end desktops and professional workstations. Although there are many differences between Sapphire Rapids (servers) and the hybrid Raptor Lake architecture (desktop), which powers Intel’s current 13th Gen Core processors, one of the key differentiators is the absence and any Efficiency or E-Cores. Sapphire Rapids and the new Xeon W series is exclusively powered by Intel’s high-performance P-cores, or Performance Cores.

Xeon W — All About Performance Cores

Intel’s current-gen P-cores were formerly known by the code name Golden Cove. Golden Cove features a relatively new architecture (it debuted a couple of years back), which is designed for low latency, class-leading single-threaded throughput, and improved support for larger, more complex and more diverse applications.

Golden Cove’s improvements over previous-gen designs come by way of a larger, more robust front-end for instruction fetch and decoding, as well as a wider, deeper and more intelligent out-of-order processing engine, with improved branch prediction accuracy, reduced L1 cache latencies, and larger, higher-bandwidth L2 cache optimizations.

The Xeon W-3400 & W-2400 Families

The Xeon W series is comprised of two processor families, the Xeon W-3400 and Xeon W-2400. Xeon W-3400 series processors were codenamed Sapphire Rapids-112L. The 112L moniker refers to the number of PCIe 5.0 lanes integrated into the processors. Xeon W-3400s also support up to eight channels of memory (with maximum support for up to a whopping 4TB), and will feature up to 56 cores (112 threads) and Up to 105 megabytes of L3 cache. For reference, the current top-end Core i9-13900K has 24 cores (only 8 of which are P-cores) and a dual channel memory interface.


The Xeon W-2400 series leverages the same architecture and platform, but scales down the maximum number of cores and memory channels. The Xeon W-2400 series was formerly codenamed Sapphire Rapids-64L, which again refers to the maximum number of integrated PCIe 5.0 lanes integrated into the processors. The top Xeon w7-2495X processor features 24 cores (48 threads) and support for quad-channel memory configurations, up to 2TB in total, with up to Up to 45 megabytes of L3 cache.

Both the Xeon W-3400 and Xeon W-2400 will use socket LGA4677 and link to the Intel W790 chipset, which itself brings and array of IO connectivity, including a bevy of USB 3.2/2.0 ports, SATA ports, wired multi-gig Ethernet, WiFi 6e, and additional PCIe 4.0 lanes. All of the processors also require DDR5 memory and will offer boost clocks north of 4GHz, peaking at 4.8GHz on the higher-end models.

Xeon W Pricing & Availability

The Xeon W-2400 family will initially be comprised of eight processors, with as few as six (Xeon w3-2423) cores and as many as 24 (Xeon w9-2495x) cores, at prices ranging from $389 on up to $2189. The Xeon W-3400 family will initially be comprised of seven processors, with as few at 12 (Xeon w5-3425) cores and as many as 56 (Xeon w9-3495X) cores, at prices ranging from $1189 on up to $5889. Comparing up and down the stack to AMD’s competitive Threadripper Pro processors, the Xeon W series is priced competitively, on a cost-per-core basis – sometimes cheaper, sometimes more expensive, but in the same ballpark.

Xeon W series processors will be available to system integrators initially, but I expect boxed processors and motherboards will be available for the DIY crowd down the line as well.


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