Intel Xeon Gold 5218 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 5218 v. Intel Alternatives
Having higher clock speeds than the Xeon Gold 6130, a lower price point, and the same 16 core count means the Intel Xeon Gold 5218 is going to rank highly on the value scale. Here is a chart from our Second Generation Intel Xeon Scalable SKU List and Value Analysis piece.
For Intel Xeon Gold and Platinum SKUs, the Intel Xeon Gold 5218 is the chip to beat. We should mention that the Intel Xeon Gold 5220 with two more cores for only $280 more is likely a worthwhile upgrade, as is the Intel Xeon Gold 6230. There is a value in adding more compute power to a socket at a relatively low cost. In servers, the cost of RAM, storage, NICs, and the server itself mean that higher-core count parts are usually worthwhile if the incremental core costs are not too egregious. In this case, there are reasonable upgrades and rationale to move up the stack.
We should note also that the Intel Xeon Silver SKUs like the Xeon Silver 4210 represent better value parts when computing pure cost to the number of cores and clock speed of those cores. In that range, upgrading from a Silver 4208 to a Silver 4210 costs only $84 or $42/ core which is less than a third of what incremental cores cost in the Xeon Gold 5218 range.
Intel Xeon Gold 5218 v. AMD EPYC Alternatives
At the time of this writing, the current generation of AMD product is the AMD EPYC 7001 series. The Intel Xeon Gold 5218 costs close enough to the AMD EPYC 7351 to make them direct competitors. Assuming a similar price point after discounts, and looking purely at CPU performance, we think the Gold 5218 is the better buy. This may change just after this review is published.
The new generation of AMD EPYC 7002 “Rome” SKUs are about to hit the market and will offer up to 64 cores per socket. That is essentially four Intel Xeon Gold 5218’s per socket. Another way to look at it is four dual Intel Xeon Gold 5218 servers will have the CPU cores of dual AMD EPYC 7002 64-core parts. We expect Intel may still have higher nominal clock speed but with PCIe Gen4 and higher capacity memory support, AMD has a very legitimate chance to disrupt the Intel Xeon Gold 5218 market and Intel will have to adapt.
What we do not know is AMD’s pricing on the parts. With an I/O die and several chiplets, we do not know what kind of pricing pressure AMD can put on Intel at the lower-end. We do know AMD can field basically a quarter I/O die and sixteen higher clocked cores for AMD Ryzen 3950X at $750 so this is a key battleground to watch.
With new features like Intel Optane DCPMM support and 35% (or more) greater performance, we think that Intel did a great job on this part. The Intel Xeon Gold 5218 offers superior value to the previous generation to the point we suggest, if possible, upgrading to the new second-generation Intel Xeon Scalable parts in your server configurations. With 16 cores, this new part may have licensing implications. For example, this is a better value for Windows Server licensing increments than the Gold 6130 is.
We also suggest that if you purchased between the Intel Xeon Silver 4116 and Gold 6130 in the first generation of CPUs, you look at this review and decide whether the Gold 5218 is the right option or if moving up the stack to the Gold 5220 or Gold 6230 represent better values for your deployments.