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Intel’s 5G-oriented Atom P5900 features up to 24 10nm Tremont cores

Feb 25, 2020 — by Eric Brown 1,450 views

Intel has launched a server-class Atom P5900 successor to its Atom C3000 based on its 10nm Tremont core. Aimed at 5G base stations, the faster P5900 offers up to 24x 2.2GHz cores and 32x PCIe lanes.

Intel is making a major push for the 5G base-station business with a new Atom P5900 “Snow Ridge” follow-on to the Atom C3000 (“Denverton”). The similarly headless Atom P5900 is even more squarely aimed at networking than the C3000, with a specific focus on 5G base stations. Intel also announced 2nd Gen Xeon Scalable processors, a Diamond Mesa 5G ASIC, and an Intel Ethernet 700 Series Network Adapter for 5G.

The Atom P5900 is built around Intel’s 10nm Tremont CPU architecture, which has first appeared on the Atom-class Lakefield follow-on to Gemini Lake. Whereas Lakefield combines 4x Tremont cores with a 10nm Ice Lake core, the P5900 is strictly Tremont, with up to 24 cores, compared to a maximum of 16 cores on the Atom C3958.


Four Atom P5900 models are available:

  • Atom P5962B — 24 cores, 27MB L2
  • Atom P5942B — 16 cores, 18MB L2
  • Atom P5931B — 12 cores, 13.5MB L2
  • Atom P5921B — 8 cores, 9MB L2

Intel Tremont architecture (left) and ISO-frequency single thread performance benchmarks showing 30 percent average performance boost over Goldmont Plus
(click images to enlarge)
Source: Intel

Intel claims the “ultra-low latency” Atom P5900 supplies 1.8x more integer throughput and 1.6x more single-core packet-forwarding throughput than the 14nm Atom C3958 while using 7 percent more memory bandwidth. The Atom P5900 has the same 2.2GHz clock rate and single-threaded cores as the C3000, but it offers 32KB L1 per core and 4.5MB of L2 cache per 4-core cluster. According to the Tom’s Hardware story that alerted us to the P5900, the SoC is the first Atom to provide an L3 cache. Intel refers to this as “shared LLC cache up to 15MB.”

The Atom P5900 integrates a new Intel Dynamic Load Balancer technology with up to 3.7x package balancing throughput. The technology can “efficiently distribute traffic across CPU cores while using the existing Intel QuickAssist for accelerating security and compression at up to 100Gbps,” says Intel. The SoC supports up to 440Gbps network switching connectivity support with up to 20x “fully integrated Ethernet SerDes” channels.”

Like the C3000, the P5900 supports up to 128GB DDR4, now at up to 2933 MT/s. It similarly supports 16x PCIe 3.0, 16x SATA 3.0, 4x USB 3.0, and 4x USB 2.0 interfaces. Sixteen lanes of high-speed I/O can be configured as 16x PCIe, 16x SATA, 16x USB 3.0, or as a combination of SATA and USB. In effect, this means you could have up to 32x PCIe lanes. Other features include GPIO, 3x UARTs, and -40 to 85°C support.

We saw no mention of OS support, but we imagine that like the Atom C3000, the Atom P5900 is primarily designed to run Linux. The C3000 has appeared on a variety of Linux-powered networking appliances such as Advantech’s FWA-1012VC, as well as numerous COM Express Type 7 modules like Avnet/MSC’s MSC C7B-DV. Earlier this month, it showed up on a Versalogic Grizzly SBC.

Intel makes a 5G move on Huawei

With the P5900, Intel “now expects to be the leading silicon provider in base stations by 2021, a year earlier than first predicted,” says the chipmaker. According to Nikkei Asian Review, Ericsson and ZTE will be the first to use the P5900 in 5G base stations.

The partners aim to take advantage of a US government blacklist against Huawei over cybersecurity concerns. Huawei had a 31 percent share of the global market for telecom equipment in 2018, and Intel is projecting a 40 percent share for the P5900 by the end of 2021, says the story. Last year, Intel sold its smartphone modem business to Apple for $1 billion, thereby giving up on the 5G client side of the business.

Further information

The Intel Atom P5900 is now available with pricing unavailable. More information may be found in Intel’s announcement, which also covers the new Xeons, the Diamond Mesa, as well as the Intel Ethernet 700 Series Network Adapter. Additional info may be found on Intel’s Atom P5900 product page, its P5900 Ark page, and the P5900 product brief.

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