3rd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable “Ice Lake” SKU List
The 3rd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable SKU stack is now an absolute mess. Intel actually has a great diagram, probably the best we have ever gotten, so we are going to use that for discussion.
First, the left side is Cooper Lake. These are the H and HL SKUs launched in 2020. The L is significant here because these SKUs still have a premium for the “Large” memory footprint. AMD competition has meant that, as we have been talking about since last summer, Intel is no longer charging a premium for higher memory capacity. The last projections we saw had the memory market as something like 85-90% 32GB and 64GB DIMMs in 2021, but this does mean one can use PMem without hitting higher memory levels.
We also get PMem 200 support on all but three Xeon Silver SKUs. Pricing is also generally lower than what we saw at the initial Cascade Lake Xeon launch and in many of the classic 28 core and under SKU levels well below even the refresh SKU pricing. For example, the 28 core SKUs top out at $3072 with the Xeon Gold 6348 but the Gold 6258R is around a third more.
Overall, Intel did a good job of unifying the feature set across its stack, albeit with some caveats. While this generation has standard 2 FMA units across the stack for AVX-512 (necessary with the Intel Core i9-11900K supporting AVX-512 now) We still get down-clocked maximum memory speeds on the Gold 5300 and Silver 4300 series. We still think the Gold series needs to be unified to get rid of the Gold 5300/ Gold 6300, but Intel is moving this way by reducing feature distinctions.
The Platinum 8380 is $8099 which is interesting for two reasons. First, it is around 20% lower cost than the Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 showing that Intel does not have confidence in it having a competitive edge against the EPYC 7763. Second, Intel messaged into Q2 (maybe Q3?) of last year with its partners that it would top out at 38 core SKUs. Our sense is that this is not designed to be a high-volume SKU, but Intel wanted it to show that it has a smaller gap to AMD and Arm core counts.
Just to give some sense of how complex this is has gotten, Intel uses the “U” in its core series for its lower TDP parts. Intel uses the U here for Uni-Processor or single socket-only configuration CPUs. Only two-thirds of the 1P only parts use the “U” though since the Platinum 8351N is also found on the Networking/ NFV “N” SKU list.
Intel Speed Select Technology Performance Profile 2.0, or SST-PP was previously found on the company’s “Y” SKUs which are again in this generation. We will have benchmarks of the Xeon Platinum 8352Y later in our performance section. At the same time, the “S” SKUs that have 512GB SGX enclave capacity also have SST-PP support, without the Y. The virtualization SKUs with the “V” have two models, but one, the Platinum 8352V retains the V while the Platinum 8358P is also a virtualization platform processor.
The Cloud players tend to have their own SKUs so we are not sure what this is, especially given the paltry 8GB SGX sizes. SGX is designed for confidential computing in areas such as cloud deployments, so this is especially strange positioning.
Intel naming conventions have gotten out-of-hand bad and are trending in an unmanageable manner with the 3rd generation Xeon Scalable. We have been hearing from customers and partners that this is making it very difficult to have SKU discussions.
There are a few notable omissions here. There is also no Xeon Bronze series in this generation. $501 is the entry price so Intel is effectively increasing the minimum price to buy into its platform by several hundred dollars. This completely makes sense and is where the industry is heading.
The other notable omission is in the frequency optimized parts. Intel has a maximum all-core turbo of 3.6GHz on the Xeon Gold 6354 and 6346. The maximum single-core turbo is the Gold 6334 and Platinum 8358Q (Q is for liquid-cooled) parts at 3.7GHz. In terms of clock speeds, the Platinum 8356H (Cooper Lake) had a base clock speed of 3.9GHz and went up from there. Intel is clearly focusing on platform and IPC boosts but the traditional frequency optimized per-core licensing SKUs (e.g. databases) are conspicuously absent.
Overall, there is a ton going on in this SKU stack, but it is amazing how many SKUs Intel has while spanning a 32 core gap between the Silver 4309Y and the Platinum 8380.
Next, it is time to get to the performance.