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New Xeon W Skylake a CPU for to the Pros
Another year, another Xeon. This time is different however, since weíre getting a hos of new technologies to revitalize mainstream workstation hardware. Should this be your next workstation upgrade? Read on to find out.I guess we don't spend as much time thinking about the workstation mid-range as we should. These are machines that often overlap strongly with consumer-grade hardware. Yet, thereís a real need for professional features on components in this performance class. Just because all you need is a quad-core CPU doesnít mean you donít also need ECC RAM or more PCI Express lanes, for example.
Late in 2017 Intel released new Xeon Processors using the Skylake-W architecture. The very lowest models are quad-core without hyperthreading, but donít let that put you off. These Xeon Skylake-W processors have a lot to offer.
Given itís 14nm process, full enterprise feature set and wide price and performance range, the Xeon-W looks like a worthy successor to the Xeon-E CPUs that seem to have been around for such a long time. If you were waiting to build a more budget-friendly LGA2066 workstation, now is the time.
RAMming it Home
Consumer-grade CPUs often only support relatively low amounts of RAM. Usually as a result of both motherboard and CPU limitations. Skylake-W processors support up to a very healthy 512GB of RAM. High-end users might scoff at such a ďlowĒ limit, but itís plenty for most mainstream workstation users. Of course, this does not represent an upgrade as previous Skylake Xeons also offered this figure. Compared to something like an i5 quad-core, itís massive.
Stay In Your Lane
If you want to build a GPU-centric workstation you donít necessarily want to fork out for CPU power youíll never need. Unfortunately most budget-friendly CPUs donít come with an abundance of PCI Express lanes. Even the high-end Core i9 10-core CPU only has 44 of them.
Skylake -W Xeons have a very healthy 48 PCI lanes at maximum, so youíre unlikely to run into GPU bandwidth issues.
The Skylake-W Xeons offer quite a few core configurations. From quad-core CPUs with no hyper threading to 18-core, 36-thread flagships. All running on just one socket. Thatís a lot fo upgrade scope.
One new feature of the Skylake-W CPUs is a focus on VR creation. The CPU has been optimized in terms of latency and performance to do a better job of letting creators make and test VR. Not everyone will care about this feature, but itís a notable new direction for Intel.
As is Intelís modu operandi, they released a new socket again for high-end machines. In June 2017 we were introduced to LGA2066. This is the same socket the new high-end Skylake-SP uses. Which means you can buy a Xeon-W now and upgrade the CPU later. That is, until Intel launched yet another socket.