Quad Intel Xeon Gold 6242 Benchmarks and Review

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Quad Intel Xeon Gold 6242 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.

Quad Intel Xeon Gold 6242 v. Intel Alternatives

Competition in the SKU stack comes in a number of forms. Here is a chart from our Second Generation Intel Xeon Scalable SKU List and Value Analysis piece.

Second Generation Intel Xeon Scalable Processors Value Analysis Mainstream SKUs
Second Generation Intel Xeon Scalable Processors Value Analysis Mainstream SKUs

One can fairly easily find chips with more cores and more raw compute at the same price point such as the Intel Xeon Gold 6238. The Intel Xeon Gold 6242 is a more focused 16-core design matched to per-core licensing and mirrors 16 core license increments one uses on current Microsoft Windows Server installations. By utilizing fewer cores, one saves on license costs.

This chip is faster than the Intel Xeon Platinum 8253 and Xeon Gold 5218. The Platinum 8253 costs about $600 more per chip than the Intel Xeon Gold 6242 but has lower clock speeds. Instead, it offers up to 8-socket support. The Intel Xeon Gold 5218 has a lower base clock speed and cannot offer fully connected 4-socket topologies. At the same time, the Intel Xeon Gold 5218 is closer to half the price.

We see the Intel Xeon Gold 6242 as the go-to chip for deploying per-core licensed software.

Quad Intel Xeon Gold 6242 v. AMD EPYC Alternatives

At the time of this writing, the current generation of AMD product is the AMD EPYC 7001 series. We are nearing the end of Q2 2019 as this is published and AMD EPYC “Rome” parts are due sometime in Q3. That makes the main competition the AMD EPYC 7371.

When we tested the frequency optimized AMD EPYC part, we saw that AMD is bringing to bear a lot of per-socket enhancements such as more memory and more PCIe bandwidth. At the same time, this is our quad socket Intel Xeon Gold 6242 review, and the AMD EPYC 7001 generation only scales to two CPUs. The single and dual socket results are very close, but in the quad socket arena, AMD is not currently playing.

Quad Intel Xeon Gold 6242 v. Arm Alternatives

There are a few Arm competitors that are building dual socket current (e.g. ThunderX2) or future (e.g. eMAG2), processors. Future platforms will be a bigger threat but for now, the threat on the Arm side is more looking ahead. Many of the applications that this type of frequency optimized SKU is designed to run are not ported fully to Arm and supported by vendors which makes Arm little threat.

Final Words

At around $2500 per chip or around $10,000 for quad Intel Xeon Gold 6242 configurations, the setup is one of the more reasonably priced quad socket configurations we have tested. Performance is good, and we clearly saw the benefit of consolidating to fewer, higher frequency cores.

We will note here that without the higher capacity memory capability, and only 16 cores per CPU, these chips are going to be extremely vulnerable in the market next quarter as AMD EPYC Rome comes out. AMD will have more cores, the same memory capacity, and more PCIe I/O in a dual socket configuration than Intel has in a quad socket configuration today, and likely at a lower price point. AMD still has not come out with their Rome CPUs at the type of writing, and even when they do, it remains to be seen how well a 32-core AMD EPYC Rome chip will compare. AMD will have more headroom to increase frequency on those 32 cores and the total core count in AMD dual socket will be closer to this quad socket Intel Xeon Gold 6242 platform with the same number of cores. 2019 should be a fun time in the server space.

1 COMMENT

  1. That is going to be a nice battle between a 4x Xeon Gold 6242 system (4 NUMA cores) with 192 PCIe-3 lanes vs. the EPYC 7702p 1 socket (UMA) with 128 PCIe-4 lanes.

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