Intel Xeon Gold 6226R 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. Here is a look at the overall competitive landscape:
We are going to dive into the impact of this chart next in our discussion of different competitive vectors.
Intel Xeon Gold 6226R v. Intel Alternatives
The Intel Xeon Gold 6226R has a fairly unique place in the lineup. It is a lower-priced part in the Xeon Gold 6200 series but also is a frequency optimized part.
Intel actually has a lot of frequency optimized parts in the Xeon Gold range. Indeed, both the Xeon Gold 6250 and Gold 6256 which launched at the same time as the refresh “R” SKUs were both frequency optimized parts.
There are a few things to consider. With expensive per-core licensing, using lower-core count parts may make significantly more sense, even if they cost more. Also moving to 205W TDP CPUs such as the Xeon Gold 6248R may make sense as the price per core will be offset by lower system and operational costs.
Where we see these chips being a near-perfect fit is for the Windows Server 2019 Standard market. A Windows Server 2019 Standard 16-core license is $972 before discounts. That is a great match for a $1300 CPU as it is likely not enough to make a jump to a Gold 6246R worthwhile, but it does add an additional cost that must be factored in.
Also, in the $1300 market, this is one of the highest clock speed options you can get. If your goal is simply to get a high-clock speed part for lower latency in this price range, it is the best option on the market regardless of licensing costs.
What is clear is that it is now very hard to recommend the Intel Xeon Gold 6242 for anything other than quad-socket applications. Perhaps that is a reason we tested those parts in a Quad Intel Xeon Gold 6242 configuration, or perhaps that is dumb luck. If you are purchasing a dual-socket server, just get the Gold 6226R instead of the Gold 6242 unless you want a new even higher-performing option.
Intel Xeon Gold 6226R v. AMD EPYC 7002 “Rome”
The Intel Xeon Gold 6226R v. AMD EPYC 7002 series is very interesting. In many applications where the large and fast EPYC “Rome” caches do not come into play, the Intel Xeon Gold 6226R can be the better option solely looking at CPU performance. When those caches are offset by clock speed, the Xeon Gold 6226R is now in the same range of performance per dollar as the EPYC 7352 and EPYC 7302. While AMD may have a lead, one also must remember Intel has more components such as NICs and SSDs that can be bundled at a system level with CPUs to offset differences.
Where perhaps the most intriguing deltas happen in this AMD v. Intel segment come down to the platforms. If you are simply adding a few DIMMs and a single SATA SSD to a server with a 10GbE or 25GbE NIC, the platforms do not matter as much. However, we need to take a look at what they offer.
These CPUs support Intel Optane DCPMMs for a different class of persistent memory and storage, albeit only up to 1TB of memory. Intel also has AVX-512 and VNNI (DL Boost) instruction advantages.
AMD has features such as supporting more, higher-capacity, and higher-speed RAM, more PCIe lanes, and PCIe Gen4 support. If you need the more “scalable” two-socket platform, AMD simply has the more scalable dual-socket solution at this point.
Intel also rationalized away a mainstream Cooper Lake Xeon platform so we are left waiting until Ice Lake to get more parity on the platform side.
At the same time, Intel is now thoroughly in the range where with smaller discounts it can offer a competitively performing part, at a close enough price to keep buyers who were considering switching. For incumbents, pricing for your offerings just needs to be “close enough” to avoid a mass exodus to your upstart competitor.
Overall, this is a good competitive segment now.
A key takeaway for our readers is simple. If you were using the popular Intel Xeon Gold 6242 in dual-socket systems, and do not find a compelling reason for transitioning to AMD EPYC, then the choice is simple: switch to the Xeon Gold 6226R. There is almost no reason to spend a premium for the previous part given what we saw in our testing.
In the sub $1500 CPU range, this is a very interesting chip. It offers perhaps a new go-to solution for Windows Server 2019 Standard licensing as well as other lower-cost per core applications. Beyond the per-core licensing cases, having chips that offer higher frequencies in this price range can be very attractive indeed.
Overall, we think the Intel Xeon Gold 6226R is where it needs to be to compete on a price/ performance basis in the market. There are many reasons on may choose to look at AMD EPYC “Rome” but this SKU has closed the gap significantly to the point where if one did not want to switch to AMD, the case will be much stronger. We actually think this is a new chip that AMD may have to respond to. This is a great competitive response from Intel giving their current portfolio capabilities.