2nd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Refresh Performance
We wanted to give some sense of the performance one can see with the new SKUs over the older generation parts with similar names. As a result, we have Intel Xeon Gold 6248 processors along with Intel Xeon Gold 6248R CPUs in a testbed, specifically the Supermicro SYS-2029UZ-TN20R25M or “2029UZ-TN20R25M” server.
The Supermicro 2029UZ-TN20R25M is a 2U dual-socket server that is part of the company’s “Ultra” line meant to compete in the higher-end of the server market. We requested this server specifically because it has 20x NVMe SSD bays, it supports Intel Optane DCPMM, and it has built-in 25GbE. 25GbE is a major networking trend and we have already started doing overviews of 25GbE TOR switches such as the Ubiquiti UniFi USW-Leaf 48x 25GbE and 6x 100GbE switch overview. We have done adapter reviews such as the Supermicro AOC-S25G-i2S, Dell EMC 4GMN7 Broadcom 57404, and the Mellanox ConnectX-4 Lx. We also have 100GbE switch reviews in the publishing queue so we wanted to start focusing on the new systems.
This Supermicro 2029UZ-TN20R25M platform is significant for another reason. It supports 205W TDP CPUs. Not all Intel Xeon Scalable platforms can support 205W TDP CPUs and we needed that for our testing since Intel added a lot more performance but also has increased power consumption by 55W moving from the Xeon Gold 6248 to the Gold 6248R.
If you want to see an example of how this can impact some systems, we put the Xeon Gold 6248 in a Supermicro X11SPM-TPF platform and it worked without issue. When we tried the Xeon Gold 6248R, that extra 55W caused an error since that platform supports only up to 165W TDP CPUs as we noted in that review:
For this reason, we wanted to use the Supermicro 2029UZ-TN20R25M which is a higher-end platform capable of handling this type of CPU.
Intel Xeon Gold 6248R Benchmarks
We wanted to give some sense of performance, specifically as it relates to four SKUs and this Intel Xeon Gold 6248R. Those other three SKUs are the previous generation Intel Xeon Gold 6248, the similar 8-socket capable Intel Xeon Platinum 8268, and the AMD EPYC 7402/ 7402P from a competitive standpoint.
Python Linux 4.4.2 Kernel Compile Benchmark
This is one of the most requested benchmarks for STH over the past few years. The task was simple, we have a standard configuration file, the Linux 4.4.2 kernel from kernel.org, and make the standard auto-generated configuration utilizing every thread in the system. We are expressing results in terms of compiles per hour to make the results easier to read
In this test, the $2,700 list price Xeon Gold 6248R is just about dead-even with the AMD EPYC 7402/ 7402P at a $1,783/ $1,250 price point (2P/ 1P.) We can also see a slight bump above the Intel Xeon Platinum 8268 which was essentially the $6,302 part at this price point. Way down the list, we see the Intel Xeon Gold 6248. Our Linux kernel compile benchmark tends to be a decent indicator of performance. For STH’s internal workloads it is a fairly close indicator as to what we experience.
Intel Xeon Gold 6248R, Gold 6248, Platinum 8268, AMD EPYC 7402 Comparison
Since this article is already many charts long and is pushing 4,500 words already, we are going to give a small sample of workloads to again exemplify what we know we will see based on specs, equal or better than Xeon Platinum 8268 performance at a lower price. We are going to normalize this chart to the Intel Xeon Gold 6248 numbers as being 1.0 to make it easier to read:
Looking at the competitiveness factor, here is a performance per dollar chart of the above-using list price and normalized to the Gold 6248’s performance as 1.0. We will note that discounting can have a significant impact on these prices for both Intel and AMD.
As you can see here, Intel is offering 35-55% better performance per dollar with the Xeon Gold 6248R over the Gold 6248. That is an enormous delta. We went through a decade where a 2-5% improvement was considered a “refresh” and a 5-20% improvement was considered a new line of processors.
Put in different terms, we normalized this chart to the performance per dollar of the Gold 6248R as 1.0. Here is what that looks like:
While one can claim a 35-55% better performance per dollar on the Intel Gold comparison, looking at the Xeon Platinum 8268 is more interesting. Intel is essentially discounting that higher-level of performance by about 58%. That is absolutely a huge move in 10-11 months after launch.
On the AMD EPYC side, the tables have also turned. Now that performance is very close, the question comes down to pricing. List prices still give AMD a 40-75% advantage over the Xeon Gold 6248R, however, those are list prices. If customers are willing to pay a 10-20% premium for Intel over AMD to simply not move vendors, it does not take much discounting to close that gap. Also, Intel can sell more silicon such as the PCH, NICs, SSDs, Optane DCPMM, and accelerators to close the gap further through bundle discounts. AMD needs to be ahead on the value side, but the breadth of Intel’s product portfolio can have a huge market impact.
A quick note, Intel is claiming “36% more performance and 42% more performance per dollar” in their NewsByte. When we looked at the footnote, Intel is comparing the new refresh 2-socket Xeon Gold “R” SKUs to the 4-socket capable 1st generation Intel Xeon Scalable Gold SKUs. Here is the disclosure:
Taking the Intel Xeon Gold 6×30 level as an example since it has stayed at the $1,894 level, we see why comparing the first generation to the “R” SKU makes Intel look great:
Now Intel both disclosed this and used a geomean of many results to get to 36% and 42%, however, we just want our readers to be aware that this is not Gen 2 to 2R but instead Gen 1 to Gen 2R that Intel is touting the benefits of. Frankly, Intel has a great story even comparing its 2019 to 2020 generations. Make no mistake, if you are a mainstream dual-socket Xeon buyer, the Gold 5200R and Gold 6200R parts are going to offer huge performance per dollar gains over the 2019 generations as well.
Over the next few weeks, you will see reviews of the Intel Xeon Gold 6248R as well as the Supermicro 2029UZ-TN20R25M and other SKUs. We just wanted to give some examples of just how much more performance the new SKUs offer before discussing the market impact which we will continue with next.