Revolution or cosmetic changes? New generations of Intel server processors

Revolution or cosmetic changes? New generations of Intel server processors

Source: Intel

On December 14, Intel announced two families of server processors: Intel Xeon Scalable 5th generation Emerald Rapids and Intel Xeon E-2400. Let’s consider them in more detail, compare them with predecessors and AMD products.

How different are processors from their ancestors and will they find a place in the server segment? For the answers, I invite under the cat.

Intel Xeon E-2400


I’ll start with the younger line – we use its predecessors in dedicated Selectel servers and also plan to update them.

Overview of processors

Judging by the characteristics, it was previously published on the Intel website

leakage

turned out to be true.

Major updates

  • Support for two DDR-5 4800 channels appeared, but the maximum volume is limited to 128 GB.
  • Processors are built with the LGA1700 socket in mind.
  • There is support for 16 PCI Express 5.0 lines and four PCI Express 4.0 lines.
  • DMI version 4.0

Intel claims a 1.3 times increase in productivity compared to the previous generation Xeon E-2300:

The performance gain is partially due to faster DDR-5 memory. However, the new generation E-2400 does not support AVX-512 instructions and no longer has integrated graphics. In my opinion, this is a downgrade.

A comparison of two generations of processors shows that the basic clock frequencies and the number of cores in similar models have not undergone significant changes. The main improvements are related to an increase in the maximum clock frequency and the amount of cache memory. At the same time, a noticeable change was the disappearance of the letter G, which means the presence of built-in graphics. This shows that there are no “revolutionary changes” in this category of processors.

Comparison with competitors

In this aspect, the Intel Xeon E-2400 line of processors still stands out from the rest. It is a separate segment of younger server processors. Under them, you can choose different models of Rackmount cases, motherboards or ready-made platforms.

Can workstations based on Intel W-2400 and W-3400 series or AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors be considered competitors? Platforms for these processors are often presented in tower cases, which is always optimal for data centers. Therefore, Xeon E stands out among server processors due to its versatility and availability in the lower price segment. I am waiting for your comments with alternative proposals for replacing these processors in 1U servers.


Intel Xeon Scalable 5th Emerald Rapids


Overview of processors

The new generation features scalable Platinum, Gold, and Silver processors, as well as models optimized for liquid cooling systems. Also among the novelties are single-processor solutions that do not support scaling, and models designed to work in 5G networks, Internet of Things (IOT) systems, cloud servers (IaaS/PaaS) and data storage systems (storage HCI). All new processors are manufactured using the Intel 7 process (10 ESF nanometers).

Traditionally, Intel reports an overall performance increase of 21% in new generation processors.

They also consume 36% less energy, thereby reducing total costs by 77% over five years when using servers based on the new processors.

The main emphasis in Intel’s presentation is also on a performance increase of up to 42% in tasks of artificial intelligence and complex calculations.

Comparison with the previous generation

Intel presents a slide on better energy efficiency:

The company also talks about the growth of productivity of the new generation in artificial intelligence tasks:

Based on the analysis of various client cases and research on the choice of infrastructure, I can distinguish two main types of tasks.

Tasks of the first type, such as virtualization on dedicated servers, require a large number of cores and threads. In the second type of tasks, for example, for working with 1C, the basic frequency requirement is critical.

In these two aspects, I do not see qualitative changes in the new generation. Let me remind you which models were presented in the fourth generation:

The maximum number of processor cores has increased from 60 to 64. At the same time, the RCP recommended retail price has increased by 10%, from $10,710 to $11,600.

Only the 6558Q model (32 cores, 3.2 – 4.1 GHz) “breaks through” the base frequency of 3 GHz and 24 cores, but it is optimized for work with SZHO and has only changed cosmetically when compared with its analogue 6458Q (32 cores, 3.1 – 4.0 GHz)

It is also worth noting a threefold increase in cache on some models and support for DDR5-5600 instead of DDR5-4800 memory, which was installed earlier. The 4516Y model (24 cores, 2.2-3.7 GHz) also deserves attention. In the past, processors of this line were limited to only 20 cores in the Silver series, and the fourth generation Gold had a lower base frequency – for example, the 5418Y (24 cores, 2.0-3.9 GHz)

In the fifth generation, there are no models for four- and eight-processor systems. Maximum scalability is now limited to two processors.

Comparison with competitors

Let’s give the floor to Intel and the slides from the presentation.

Intel again points to the advantages over the competitor from AMD. On the last slide, you can see the results of testing processors in databases, inference and virtualization.

The graphics look great, but there is one caveat. Intel is not comparing its own top-of-the-line product with AMD’s maximum processor. This is due to the fact that the top lines of server EPYCs look like this:

Maybe the whole thing is in the price?

The RCP for the top model Intel Xeon 8592+ (64 cores, 1.9 – 3.9 GHz) is $11,600, while the AMD EPYC 9754 model (128 cores, 2.25 – 3.1 GHz) costs $11,900. If you calculate the number of cores or threads, it turns out that AMD is twice as economical as Intel. To achieve similar performance on Intel processors, you need to buy four processors and use a more expensive 4-socket motherboard. However, it can be seen from the table of characteristics that Intel Xeon Scalable processors of the fifth generation do not support scaling by more than two processors at all.

A little insider from Selectel: AMD’s share of dedicated server orders is steadily increasing. Customers prefer a more favorable performance-cost ratio. Recently, there was information that AMD plans to release processors with 192 cores in 2024.

And the notorious 64 AMD cores began to be offered already in the 7003 generation, presented in 2021.

Let’s go back to Intel’s presentation:

In this comparison, the new Intel Xeon 6548Y+ processor (32 cores, 2.5 – 4.1 GHz) at $3,726 is matched against the AMD EPYC 9334 processor (32 cores, 2.7 – 3.9 GHz) at $2,990. The latter is clearly inferior in terms of parameters, although the choice of an opponent for testing can be questioned.

Why was the AMD EPYC 9334 chosen over the AMD EPYC 9534 (32 cores, 3.25 – 3.8 GHz), which is still cheaper than the Xeon 6548Y? Or the AMD EPYC 9374F (32 cores, 3.85 – 4.3 GHz) with an even higher base and peak frequency for $4,850?

As for frequencies, AMD has several F-rated processors that are well-suited for resource-intensive single-threaded tasks.

Intel does not offer anything like this in either new or previous generations of server processors.

We understand that the processor specifications declared by the manufacturer do not always correspond to their real performance. To determine the performance of processors in real conditions, we conduct tests. As an example, we can cite Selectel benchmarks, in which we measure the performance of servers when solving various tasks.

In this context, Intel processors will certainly find their buyers. However, neither the stated parameters, nor the arguments presented in the presentations, so far do not have a decisive influence in favor of Intel.

Conclusion


Intel’s presentation caused mixed reactions. The new generation of E-2400 processors received support for faster DDR-5 memory and increased maximum frequencies, but they lost support for AVX-512 and integrated graphics.

Xeon Scalable 5th Generation does not impress with the maximum number of cores and threads, especially against the background of leaks about updates of competing AMD products. Intel does not offer bright solutions for single-threaded applications with high base and maximum frequencies, unlike AMD’s high-frequency processors with a large number of cores.

The update echoes the recent cosmetic changes to the 14th generation Raptor Lake Refresh line of desktop processors. We hope for the release of the Sierra Forest and Granite Rapids models in 2024.

What do you think about the new processors? Share your thoughts and expectations in the comments.

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