Intel’s most expensive CPU can run without external RAM and yes, it can play Starfield

A spaceship in Starfield travelling through space
(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

The Intel Xeon CPU Max 9480 CPU is one of the firm’s fastest CPUs that it’s manufactured to date – and most expensive – combining 56 cores with in-built RAM.

No, this isn’t DDR4 or DDR5 RAM, but rather 64GB of HBM2e RAM, which is fitted into many GPUs and AI accelerators. 

The processor is built with four 14-core CPU tiles, and each accompanied with a 16GB HMB2e package and two DDR5 channels. Elsewhere, the processor has a bsae frequency of 1.9Ghz, rising to 3.5Ghz maximum turbo frequency, in addition to 112.5MB L3 cache.

Intel's Xeon CPU Max 9480 CPU packs plenty of punch

It also features a curious ‘winged’ shape, with winglets adding extra space to the package for some of the components that have been moved to make room for the HBM2e memory modules, according to Serve the Home.

Despite the presence of eight DDR5 RAM channels, you can install the CPU into a machine and it’ll be powerful enough to run alone. 

Better yet, it’ll be more powerful than most of the best PCs out there, with its 64GB of HBM2e RAM even rendering it powerful enough to run Starfield without the need for any added memory.

That’s according to one YouTube user who claims to have worked on the bridge dies between the CPU tiles. “There is enough PCIE and RAM for seven players to each have the P-cores of a 12900K and their own full bandwidth 4090,” they said.

In practice, however, this CPU is designed for high-performance computing, for a range of workloads including data science and AI. There are also six different configurations, divided across three modes, each one related to how much RAM’s in use, from which source, and to what extent.

‘HBM Only’ involves no code change and no DDR5 RAM, with the system booting and operating with HBM2e RAM only. ‘HBM Flat Mode’ effectively revolves around the use of two different pools of memory – HBM2e and DDR5 – in combination. This is particularly useful for giving certain memory-hungry applications more flexibility. ‘HBM Caching Mode’, meanwhile, relies on storing hot data on the processor, while using DDR5 RAM as the primary memory store.

The result, according to Intel, is performance gains of up to 3.7 times greater than fourth-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors across various industrial workloads.

While it’s among the most interesting CPUs Intel has manufactured, it’s also among the most expensive, with a recommended customer price of $12,980 each.

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Keumars Afifi-Sabet
Channel Editor (Technology), Live Science

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is the Technology Editor for Live Science. He has written for a variety of publications including ITPro, The Week Digital and ComputerActive. He has worked as a technology journalist for more than five years, having previously held the role of features editor with ITPro. In his previous role, he oversaw the commissioning and publishing of long form in areas including AI, cyber security, cloud computing and digital transformation.