Launched in mid-2019, the W-3200 family of Xeon processors didn't get much of a marketing push, but has quickly impressed us with how much performance value they bring to the table. Moving to the Cascade Lake architecture from the Skylake SP technology older Xeon W chips use, there’s a lot of notable improvements on offer.
Bigger Socket, Bigger Core Count
If you’re a long-time Intel fan, you won’t be surprised to know that upgrading to a 3200 series Xeon W also means upgrading to a new socket.A practice more common on consumer grade machines, but now also showing its face on the workstation side of the market. With the 3200 chips, we’re moving from the LGA2066 to the massive LGA3647.
That’s a lot of extra pins, but the upside is that the top-tier 3200 CPU sports 28 cores! A big jump from LGA2066 Skylake SP CPUs that topped out at 18 cores. You also get six-channel ECC memory support, compared to the quad-channel offering on the LGA2066 Xeon W chips.
Intel’s processors have been plagued by hardware-level security bugs with fixes that, in some cases, put a serious dent in performance. The 3200 Xeon W chips provide permanent hardware fixes for at least two of these bugs: Spectre and Meltdown. While other vulnerabilities will undoubtedly be discovered in both Intel and AMD hardware at some point, at least you won’t have to worry about these two serious weaknesses with a 3200 family CPU nestled in your workstation.
GPU Bandwidth for Days
GPU workloads are becoming more and more important in workstations. With motherboards featuring multiple slots and massive amounts of data moving around the system, you’ll be pleased to know that the Xeon-W 3200 CPUs offer a full 64 PCIe 3.0 lanes. You’ll find this puts it right at the top of the pile when it comes to Intel CPUs and GPU bandwidth. If you need to get everything you can out of a quad-GPU setup running data-intensive workloads, the 3200-series chips are the only choice on the blue side of the fence.
A Wide Range of Choices
The 3200 series chips straddle a wide range of price and performance points. The entry-level W-3223 is an eight-core part that retails for around $750. By the time you hit the W-3275M, you’re looking at almost exactly ten times that price! Between those two price points there’s a Xeon 3200 for just about every performance level a professional workstation user might need, though they all have that same core set of features that make the 3200s such a substantive improvement over previous chips. In fact, GPU-centric workstations are probably better off aiming for the lowest SKU that can get the job done. Even the 3223 offers 64 PCIe 3.0 lanes, which is food for thought!