Quad Intel Xeon Platinum 8260 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 Platinum 8260 v. Intel Alternatives
The Intel Xeon Platinum 8260 is a very interesting part in the SKU stack. Numerically, it sits just above the Intel Xeon Platinum 8256. At the same time, with 24 cores, it has six times the core count of the numerically lower part. Here is a chart from our Second Generation Intel Xeon Scalable SKU List and Value Analysis piece.
There is another 24 core part, the Intel Xeon Platinum 8268 which costs about $1600 more (or $6400 in quad socket configurations.) One gets the same turbo clock but only a 500MHz base clock jump. Given that, the Intel Xeon Platinum 8260 is a better value from a raw cost per clock basis. There are other costs, such as the costs of the rest of the system, and software licensing which can easily make the Intel Xeon Platinum 8268 a better choice.
Quad Intel Xeon Platinum 8260 v. AMD EPYC Alternatives
At the time of this writing, the current generation of AMD product is the AMD EPYC 7001 series. Here, the AMD setup is simply not able to offer the expansion, memory, and core count that the quad Intel Xeon Platinum 8260 platform offers.
This is about to change. 96 cores will be in the upper mid-range of the AMD EPYC “Rome” generation dual socket design. We covered that AMD EPYC Rome 2P Will Have 128-160 PCIe Gen4 Lanes, that will give more bandwidth than the quad Intel Xeon Platinum 8260 setup and will enable new use cases.
With that said, Intel is in the market in Q2, AMD is not yet in the channel market with Rome so this is a picture that will change drastically after this review is published. Pricing of the Intel Xeon Platinum 8260 may make sense at the time of publication, but that may not be the case a quarter later.
Quad Intel Xeon Platinum 8260 v. Arm Alternatives
At this point, Arm does not have a direct competitor for the scale-up market to quad socket designs. That may change in the next few years. The fact that the market has moved to scale out platforms instead of scale up in recent history means that the Arm vendors are generally focused on the scale-out architecture. We think this will change, but we expect AMD to provide more immediate competition.
Overall the quad Intel Xeon Platinum 8260 setup performed well, as expected. We think that with Intel Optane DCPMM there is a clear value proposition that is not offered elsewhere. We wish that Intel simplified their SKU stack to make Optane DCPMM adoption easier.
At around $4.7K per chip, this is a fairly reasonable setup today. Going to higher-end chips costs significantly more. We are going to note that without the higher-end memory capacity capability, and only 24 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. At the same time, today, AMD is not in the market with that product today so Intel does not have competition. Our reviews are online for some time, so we wanted to call that out.