Intel Xeon Silver 4210 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 4210 v. Intel Alternatives
Whereas there was not great differentiation between the Intel Xeon Silver 4108 and Silver 4110 in the previous generation, Intel has rectified that with the Intel Xeon Silver 4210. With the new parts, one gets two additional cores and a higher base clock with the Silver 4210 upgrade. In most servers today, we would strongly recommend this.
Here is a quick look at what the Intel Xeon Silver 4210 value analysis looks like compared to the previous generation:
As one can see, the Intel Xeon Silver 4210 provides the most cores * clocks per dollar of the four “mainstream” Intel Xeon Silver 4200 parts. That yields around 30% better ratios than the previous generation Intel Xeon Silver 4110. It also makes a strong case for buying up the stack from the Intel Xeon Silver 4208 to the Silver 4210.
Intel Xeon Silver 4210 v. AMD EPYC Alternatives
We are in a bit of a strange period. We are publishing this review the quarter before AMD EPYC “Rome” next-generation CPUs will launch. As a result, Intel has its updated line that is more competitive with the AMD EPYC “Naples” platform in terms of performance and price/ performance.
Addressing the bigger question, if you are using lower-end CPUs simply to provide some CPU performance while using a lot of RAM or PCIe expansion, then the AMD EPYC 7001 “Naples” chips provide a more robust platform. The AMD EPYC 7251 is competitive on the CPU performance side but offers more I/O at a slightly lower list price. At the same time, the AMD systems are seeing fairly heavy discounts to the point that quotes for our lab are essentially putting the AMD EPYC 7401P, a 24-core part, in the same price bracket as a single Intel Xeon Silver 4210.
Intel did an awesome job here. The Intel Xeon Silver 4210 delivers enormous generation-on-generation gains upwards of 30% in many cases. By increasing both single thread performance as well as mutli-threaded performance, there is a tangible benefit to most applications. While the architecture is not drastically different, save for adding VNNI for AI inferencing, Intel is simply giving core counts found at the $700 price range for $500 which is great.
One of the most heralded features of the 2nd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable family is support for Intel Optane DCPMM. The Intel Xeon Silver 4210 does not support Optane DCPMM, even the 128GB DIMMs. If you were thinking of using the lower-end CPU as an inexpensive redis platform, Intel took that into account in their product segmentation. You need to buy a more expensive CPU for Optane DCPMM support.
Overall, the message Intel is giving us is a simple one. More cores, higher clock speeds, at the same price point, or the same cores, and slightly higher clock speeds at a lower price point. In either case, this is a win for server buyers.