Intel Xeon Gold 5120 Benchmarks and Review New Level of Redundancy


Intel Xeon Gold 5120 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: 124W
  • 100% Load: 161W
  • Peak: 165W

Note these results were taken using a 208V Schneider Electric / APC PDU at 17.7C and 72% RH. Our testing window shown here had a +/- 0.3C and +/- 2% RH variance. These are great power consumption figures.

Note, these figures are ever so slightly higher than we saw in our Intel Xeon Gold 5117 benchmarks and review. They are still relatively close in terms of power numbers.

Intel Xeon Gold 5120 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 5120 v. Intel Xeon

At STH we are doing something admittedly strange. We are testing the different SKUs. Most organizations will pick the Intel Xeon Gold 5120, for example, and not look at the other SKUs in the Xeon Gold 5100 range. Since we are looking at such a large swath of the SKU stack, we see patterns. One of these patterns is a mind-bogglingly tight spec difference that differentiates the Intel Xeon Gold 5120, Gold 5119T and Xeon Gold 5117. Intel has a lot of very sophisticated pricing and market knowledge, but this is an area where simplification would be nice. Adding SKUs means that Intel’s channel partners have another variation in their configurators to maintain, more SKUs to stock for extended warranties, and etc. There is an ecosystem cost to adding SKUs. This is a case where the stack can be simplified since there is little need for three 14 core SKUs with similar clock speeds.

Looking up the stack, the Intel Xeon Gold 6100 series is s significant bump up in terms of specs. The ability to use DDR4-2666 RAM, dual port FMA AVX-512, and niche features such as supporting quad socket configurations.

Moving down the stack, either a dual Intel Xeon Silver 4108 or dual Intel Xeon Silver 4110 setup is less expensive, even taking account upgrading from single to dual CPU platforms. The dual Silver platforms use slightly more power when both are configured with 12 DIMMs. There is also a major performance benefit over the single Intel Xeon Silver 4116 configuration for an incrementally higher cost. Unlike the Intel Xeon Silver line, the Xeon Gold 5120 can be used in quad socket implementations, but we do not see this as a likely configuration. The Intel Xeon Gold 5120 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 5120 v. AMD EPYC

Architecture matters. Core-for-core, the Intel Xeon Gold 5120 generally ends up on top. At the same time, a single Intel Xeon Gold 5120 is often faster than two AMD EPYC 7251 CPUs. If you read our dual EPYC 7251 review, we see them more as an Intel Xeon Bronze competitor. Looking at single-socket only, if you are not 100% tied to an Intel x86 ISA, the picture is really easy. Just get AMD EPYC 7401P. The AMD EPYC 7401P has 24 cores versus the Intel Xeon Gold 5120’s 14 cores. It is also several hundred dollars less which can be substantial in a single socket platform. 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 means EPYC systems can handle more expansion in single socket than Intel Xeon can in a dual socket platform.

The only caveat here is that AMD EPYC uses more power. While the Intel Xeon Gold 5120 uses too much power in a base configuration for a low-end commodity 1A 120V colocation, it also has plenty of room to expand RDIMM count and drive count to fit into 1A 208V or 2A 120V per U footprints. AMD cannot do this.

Final Words

The Intel Xeon Gold 5120 is actually a nice part for its target segment. It is a low power CPU with 14 cores and over 3GHz single core turbo clock speeds. AMD has higher performance parts in the EPYC line, but none that compete directly in terms of power consumption. Intel has too many parts in this market segment. The Gold 5120 is too similar to the Gold 5117 and Gold 5119T but it should perhaps be the surviving part if the SKU stack were rationalized.


  1. What is this “Project Xavier” CPU benchmarking project, i really want to know more, how does one access this data? Is this a paid service you are offering?

  2. Project Xavier is our project to benchmark every AMD EPYC and Intel Xeon Scalable CPU we can get our hands on. In addition to our workloads, a portion of which is used for this benchmark series, we have been running workloads for our clients. The goal has been to get people real performance data about their workloads across a large number of CPUs.

  3. Thanks, and how does my company become a client for this service? I can’t find any mention to this service on the site.


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