Intel Xeon Gold 5117 Benchmarks and Review Why Bother

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Intel Xeon Gold 5117 Power Consumption

We wanted to post a few figures from our testing that show the real selling point of the chips, low power.

  • Idle: 71W
  • 70% Load: 122W
  • 100% Load: 158W
  • Peak: 162W

Note these results were taken using a 208V Schneider Electric / APC PDU at 17.8C and 72% RH. Our testing window shown here had a +/- 0.3C and +/- 2% RH variance. These are great power consumption figures.

Intel Xeon Gold 5117 Market Positioning

Thes chips are not released in a vacuum instead, they have competition on both the Intel and AMD sides. When you purchase a server and select a CPU, it is important to see the value of a platform versus its competitors.

Intel Xeon Gold 5117 v. Intel Xeon

The Intel Xeon Gold 5117 is a head scratcher in the Xeon Scalable lineup. If you want AVX-512 performance, or you want more performance per socket, you would move to the Intel Xeon Gold 6100 line. If you want a better value for compute performance from Intel, the dual Intel Xeon Silver 4108 setup is less expensive, even taking account upgrading from single to dual CPU platforms. The dual Silver 4108 is faster and uses only slightly more power when both are configured with 12 DIMMs. We did see an appreciable uplift over the Intel Xeon Silver 4116, but you are going to start paying a lot more for incremental performance.

The question we had difficulty addressing is “why?” Why does this chip exist when the Intel Xeon Gold 5119T has the same core count, relatively similar clock speeds, and a lower TDP. Power consumption is close but it seems like the Intel Xeon Gold 5117 is largely a redundant part. If you want to see an example of gluttony in the Intel Xeon Scalable (Skylake-SP) SKU stack, the Intel Gold 5117 should be high on this list.

Unlike the Intel Xeon Silver line, the Xeon Gold 5117 can be used in quad socket implementations, but we do not see this as a likely configuration. The Intel Xeon Gold 5117 only has two UPI links so it cannot directly address every other CPU in a four-socket topology like the Xeon Gold 6100 or Xeon Platinum 8100 CPUs can.

Intel Xeon Gold 5117 v. AMD EPYC

If you are not 100% tied to an Intel x86 ISA, the picture is really easy. Just get AMD EPYC. You can get either the 16 core AMD EPYC 7351P or AMD EPYC 7401P for significantly less cost than the Intel Xeon Gold 5117 if you are looking at single socket configurations. Either will get you more performance. AMD EPYC has 33% more RAM channels and can use higher speed RAM (DDR4-2666 v. DDR4-2400) so memory bandwidth is higher. AMD EPYC also has more PCIe lanes available which mean systems can handle more expansion.

The only caveat here is that AMD EPYC uses more power. Another way to think about it is that the AMD EPYC 7401P is about equivalent to a dual-socket Intel Xeon Gold 5117 configuration so you will save on per-socket license costs (e.g. VMware). You also have more RAM capacity in a single AMD EPYC 7401P configuration than a dual Intel Xeon Gold 5117 configuration.

When looking at single socket configurations it is extremely difficult to recommend the Intel Xeon Gold 5117 over the AMD EPYC 7351P or AMD EPYC 7401P.

Final Words

The Intel Xeon Gold 5100 series, in general, is somewhat perplexing. It is essentially a higher cost extension of the Intel Xeon Silver line, as we discussed in our recent How the Intel Xeon Platinum is a Marketing Headache. The need for the Intel Xeon Gold 5117 is even less clear given the 85W TDP Xeon Gold 5119T in the market which is so similar. In terms of raw performance, this is one area where we cannot recommend a user configures Xeon Gold 5117 over AMD EPYC 7401P except in cases where there are extreme power constraints. AMD has a vastly superior single socket value proposition in this market segment. We hope Intel rationalizes away SKUs like this one and comes up with something more competitive in the next generation Cascade Lake CPUs.

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