Intel announced its Xeon W-3400 and W-2400 workstation processors, codenamed Fishawk Falls, with 15 new chips spanning from the flagship 56-core $5,889 Xeon w-3495X to the eight-core $359 w3-2423. Eight of the new models are also overclockable, thus marking Intel’s return to HEDT-class desktop processors (lower-cost overclockable server processors), for the first time since it launched the Core i9-10980XE back in 2019.
AMD’s competing Threadripper Pro currently holds the top spots on our list of best CPUs for workstations and still has the core count lead with the 64-core Threadripper Pro 5995WX, but Intel’s support for the latest connectivity options, including up to 112 PCIe 5.0 lanes and eight channels of DDR5 memory while AMD still relies on PCIe 4.0 and DDR4, could give it the edge in some workloads.
Intel claims the new Xeon W chips are up to 28% faster in single-threaded and 120% faster in multi-threaded work than its own previous-gen Xeon W processors, but didn’t share any performance comparisons to AMD’s Threadripper Pro series processors that address the same core workstation market segments. Intel also didn’t share any gaming performance benchmarks to give us a sense of where these chips will land on the list of the best CPUs for gaming. This makes sense, given the workstation focus, but the chips’ overclockability will make game testing results interesting once the silicon is in the wild.
Intel Xeon W-3400 W-2400 Specifications and Pricing
|Row 0 – Cell 0||Cores / Threads||MSRP/SEP||Base / Boost (GHz)||TDP||PCIe||L3 Cache (MB)|
|Threadripper Pro 5995WX||64 / 128||$6,499||2.7 / 4.5||280W||128||256 (8CCD + I/OD)|
|Xeon w9-3495X||56 / 112||$5,889||1.9 / 4.8||350W||112||105|
|Xeon w9-3475X||36 / 72||$3,739||2.2 / 4.8||300W||112||82.5|
|Threadripper Pro 5975WX||32 / 64||$3,299||3.6 / 4.5||280W||128||128 (4CCD + I/OD)|
|Xeon w7-3455||24 / 48||$2,489||2.5 / 4.8||270W||112||75|
|Threadripper Pro 5965WX||24 / 48||$2,399||3.8 / 4.5||280W||128||128 (4CCD + I/OD)|
|Intel Xeon w5-3435X||16 / 32||$1,589||3.1 / 4.7||270W||112||45|
|Threadripper 5955WX||16 / 32||OEM-only||4.0 / 4.5||280W||128||64|
Here’s a quick comparison of a few of Intel’s flagship chips to AMD’s competing Threadripper Pro. Intel’s workstation family includes four tiers with w9, w7, w5, and w3 models, mostly analogous to Intel’s Core i9, i7, i5, and i3 branding scheme. Intel carves the Xeon W stack into four tiers, including dual socket models. We’ll dive into the families in more detail below, but the single-socket W-2400 and W-3400 tiers are the focus of this launch:
- Intel Xeon W-3400: “Expert,” 12 to 56 hyperthreaded cores, 112 Lanes PCIe 5.0 from CPU, Eight Channels up to DDR5-4800 (4TB), 270W to 350W (w5, w7, w9), single LGA-4677 socket, W790 chipset
- Intel Xeon W-2400: “Mainstream,” 6 to 24 hyperthreaded cores, 64 Lanes PCIe 5.0 from CPU, Four Channels up to DDR5-4800 (2TB), 120W to 225W (w3, w5, w7), single LGA-4677 socket, W790 chipset
- Maximum Turbo Power (MTP) is 1.2X the Processor Base Power (PBP)
The processors wield Intel’s Golden Cove architecture and use the same design as the fourth-gen Xeon Scalable server processors, which are also known as Sapphire Rapids. The W-3400 processors come with the multi-chiplet XCC Sapphire Rapids design, while the W-2400 processors use a single MCC die.
The Golden Cove architecture is also found in Intel’s consumer-oriented Alder Lake and marks a big step forward from the Sunny Cove cores found in the previous-gen Ice Lake Xeon processors. Notably, the new Xeon W processors only have large performance cores, so there are no smaller e-cores like we see with Intel’s hybrid processors for mainstream desktop PCs.
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Here we can see the broader lineup of Intel’s processors, but you’ll notice that only seven of the 15 models are available at retail as a boxed unit — you’ll have to buy a complete OEM system if you want many of these models. Additionally, only seven of the models are overclockable, and the overclockable 56-core flagship isn’t available at retail.
The Xeon-W lineup spans from $350 to $5,889, but direct per-core pricing comparisons to the desktop Raptor Lake processors are tricky, given that those models all come with smaller e-cores that aren’t as performant but skew the pricing metrics. Intel’s Xeon W pricing is generally in the same range as the competing Threadripper Pro processors’ suggested pricing, but we’ll have to see how pricing settles when the processors arrive at retail.
Boost clocks range from 4.8 GHz on the highest-end models to 4.2 GHz at the end of the stack with the eight-core w3-2423. Intel’s new chips have significant increases in cache compared to their predecessors (breakdown here), with up to 105MB available with the flagship model. Intel lists Processor Base Power (PBP), which is similar to the TDP rating, as stretching from 270W to 350W for the W-3400 series and 120W to 225W for the W-2400 series. These chips will consume more power under full load at their Maximum Turbo Power (MTP) rating, which is 1.2X the PBP. (For instance, the 350W model will peak at 420W, while the 300W model will reach 360W.)
Xeon W supports either 112 or 64 lanes of PCIe 5.0, depending upon the model, which provides twice the throughput of PCIe 4.0. Intel’s support for DDR5 provides twice the memory throughput of DDR4, but it could also be a limiting factor for now — DDR5 continues to command hefty premiums over DDR4 memory.
The Xeon W processors support up to DDR5-4800 with one DIMM per channel (1DPC) and drop to DDR5-4400 for 2DPC, which is an important factor for workstation processors. Additionally, the w3 SKUs run at DDR5-4400 with 1DPC. Memory capacity tops out at 4TB for the W-3400 models and 2TB for W-2400, a significant jump over the 128GB limit for Intel’s mainstream desktop PC processors.
AMD’s Threadripper Pro 5000-series processors currently leverage the company’s previous-gen Zen 3 architecture, so they are still limited to DDR4 memory and PCIe 4.0. We expect that AMD will have its own new workstation processors with the Zen 4 architecture available in due time, thus matching Intel on the connectivity front, but we don’t know when those processors will launch.
Intel’s Xeon W processors all support AVX-512, Deep Leaning Boost (DLBoost), and the new Advanced Matrix Extensions (AMX) instructions (INT8 and BFLoat 16) that deliver explosive performance uplift in AI workloads by using a new set of two-dimensional registers called tiles. Intel’s AMX implementation is primarily used to boost performance in AI training and inference operations.
Intel Xeon W-3400 W-2400 Overclocking
Select Xeon W models support overclocking both the cores and fabric, which Intel positions as useful for professionals that need the utmost performance but can tolerate potential instability (high frequency trading comes to mind), but this has long been one of the defining features of the enthusiast-focused HEDT segment. Just as we’ve seen with past HEDT processors, the Xeon W lineup is comprised of overclockable server chips. However, pricing is much like we see with AMD’s Threadripper Pro — far above what we would deem to be rational for enthusiasts.
Intel’s minimum bar for an overclockable model you can buy at retail is $1,039 for the 12-core w5-2445 and progresses up to $3,739 for the 36-core w9-3475X. This is expensive given the core counts, but it is a lower bar for entry than we see with AMD’s Threadripper Pro lineup, which has a minimum pricing bar of $2,399 and an expensive motherboard ecosystem.
Regardless of the class of Xeon W chip you chose, you’ll have to factor in expensive platform pricing that can ruin the value prop for the Xeon W family as an HEDT platform — particularly with the W-3400 series due to its eight channels of DDR5 support, which adds cost to both the motherboards and memory. That makes the w-2400 the most accessible for enthusiasts and prosumers with its quad-channel memory support, but motherboard pricing will remain stiff due to the nature of workstation-class platforms.
The overclockable w-2400 processors start at the $1,039 12-core w5-2455X and stretch up to the $2,189 24-core w7-2495X. Naturally, those prices are hard to stomach when AMD has the 32-core Ryzen 9 7950X with a full complement of performance cores on offer for $600, so those looking for an HEDT-class system will be attracted more to the workstation-class features, like the increased number of PCIe lanes and support for ECC memory.
Naturally, these costs aren’t as much of a concern for workstation users, as these machines are often business assets that generate revenue. Despite the lower pricing for an entry-level chip, it remains to be seen if these chips will be viable as an HEDT-class lineup for enthusiasts because direct comparisons with Intel’s desktop PC chips are hard due to their hybrid architecture, and Ryzen processors have an entirely different architecture. As such, we’ll have to put these chips to the test to see how the price-to-performance ratio looks.
Xeon W’s core multipliers are fully unlocked, meaning you can overclock the cores at will, but BCLK adjustments aren’t allowed (we’re digging for details on why that limitation exists). As with the desktop processors, Intel has AVX2 and AVX-512 offsets that downshift the overclocked chip frequency when processing those types of instructions to ensure that the system remains stable in the most intense workloads, but Intel has also added a new AMX offset for Advanced Matrix Extensions. There are also accommodations for mesh frequency adjustments and turbo ratio overclocking.
Intel added support for XMP 3.0 one-click memory overclocking profiles. Overclocking the memory via XMP profiles is of little risk but can impart big memory throughput gains, so we imagine this will be popular for those with throughput-hungry workloads. All of the overclocking features are available in Intel’s software-based Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU), but overclocking options will also be available in the BIOS.
Intel’s support for overclocking comes with all of the typical caveats, such as the fact that it can shorten the chip’s lifespan and voids the warranty. While Intel’s addition of overclocking for these processors is enticing for enthusiasts, the high pricing of the chips, motherboards, cooling, and DDR5 memory will surely limit its appeal.
Intel Xeon W-3400 W-2400 Platform and Cooling
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The Xeon W-3400 and W-3200 chips are designed for single-socket “Expert” and “Mainstream” platforms with the LGA-4677 socket and W790 chipset, while the standard fourth-gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors with the same socket and the C741 chipset slot in for dual-socket workstations. Intel will not offer its HBM-equipped Xeon Max models for the workstation segment, and Optane memory is not supported for any of the workstation processors. However, all of the chips do support the CXL 1.1 interface (type 1 and 2 devices).
The W790 chipset provides 36 HSIO lanes, with 16 lanes of PCIe 4.0 exposed to the user to augment the PCIe 5.0 lanes that come directly from the CPU. The W-3400 and W-3200 chips both have a DMI 4.0 x8 connection between the CPU and the chipset to increase the amount of aggregate usable throughput from chipset-attached devices. The platform also supports many of the trimmings we’d expect from a modern platform, like eight SATA 3 ports, five USB 3.2, integrated LAN up to 2.5 Gbps, and WiFi 6E.
Intel’s new chips can consume as much as 350W at their Processor Base Power, and 1.2X the PBO when under full load at their Maximum Turbo Power (MTP) rating. So powerful cooling systems are a must, particularly for higher-end chips. Intel has an ecosystem of partners ready with LGA-4677 cooling systems, like Cooler Master, EKWB, and Auras, with watercooled solutions for both custom loops and AIOs, along with Noctua with its air-cooled options.
On the motherboard front, we can expect W790 motherboards from the usual suspects, like ASRock, Gigabyte, Supermico, and ASUS.
Intel’s chips also have all of the expected workstation-class RAS (reliability, availability, serviceability) features you’d expect, like support for ECC RDIMM memory and vPro. The Xeon W platform supports only RDIMMS and not UDIMMs, as the DDR5 spec now defines these two types with different pin-outs that require different physical layouts.
Intel Xeon W-3400 W-2400 Intel Benchmarks
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Intel shared some of its own internally-derived benchmarks, but as with all vendor-provided benchmarks, take them with a grain of salt. The test notes are at the end of the album.
Intel’s benchmarks are all comprised of workstation-specific workloads, so the jury is out on how these chips will perform in gaming. Intel claims a 28% gen-on-gen gain in single-threaded and 120% more performance in multi-threaded work, as measured by SPECrate2017_int_base. Intel also shows solid performance gains in workloads in the SPECworkstation 3.1 benchmark, along with a broad selection of workstation-focused content creation and scientific workloads.
Intel says the Xeon W-3400 and W-2400 processors are available for preorder now from its partners, with full systems being available in March (Intel says there will be a total of 50+ system designs). We’ve already seen several listings for these chips at retail, so the boxed units might come earlier.