Intel recently rolled out its new range of Intel Xeon processors for the data center. But this isn’t just a routine update. Intel claims that the new CPUs, called Intel Xeon Scalable processors, are built from the ground up to better meet the demands of modern data centers.
With this latest processor family, Intel has decided to break from the letter and number combinations it previously used for Intel Xeon processors. That’s a good thing, because the new metal-based names—Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze—make it much easier to know at a glance where each one fits in the range of basic to advanced performance capabilities.
In today’s post, I’ll provide a quick rundown on the capabilities and use cases for the new processors.
Table 1. The new Intel Xeon Scalable processors comes in four variants: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze
|Highlights:||· Best performance across workloads
· 2, 4, and 8+ socket scalability
|· Workload-optimized and designed for efficiency and agility
· High memory speed, capacity, and interconnects
· Enhanced 2–4 socket scalability
|· Scalable performance at low power
· Improved memory speed
|· Affordable, entry-level performance
· Hardware-enhanced security
· Reliable 2-socket scalability
|Best for:||Demanding, mission-critical artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, and hybrid-cloud workloads||General-purpose compute, storage, and networking||Moderate-range compute, storage, and networking, in addition to edge networking||Small-business usage and basic storage|
Focused on the Modern Data Center
Intel designed its new processors to address the needs and challenges of companies undergoing digital transformation. For example, businesses are increasingly implementing hybrid clouds as a way to achieve control and agility for their apps, services, and data. The new Intel Xeon Scalable processors deliver a foundation for high-performance, connected data platforms and data-storage services, in addition to intelligent telemetry for increased visibility and control of data center resources. The new processors also boost performance and reduce latency compared to the previous generation, which can help considerably when businesses need to perform complex analytics or run processor-intensive tasks, such as advanced modeling or AI.
Another way Intel has improved performance is by collaborating with a wide ecosystem of partners to optimize application performance for the new processors. For example, Intel worked with SAP to ensure the SAP HANA platform would run at peak performance on servers powered by the new Intel Xeon Scalable processors.
Let’s dive a little deeper to look at some of the most significant new and enhanced features in the new generation of Intel Xeon processors. We can group the features around three primary areas that are critical for modern data centers: performance, security, and agility.
Intel Xeon Scalable processors are available in configurations with up to 28 cores, which can significantly increase performance and scalability for compute-intensive workloads. The new processors also offer increased memory bandwidth and capacity compared to the previous generation, with six memory channels. The memory jump is particularly helpful for high performance computing (HPC) applications and memory-intensive workloads. Intel also made Improvements to increase PCIe 3.0 bandwidth and throughput for input/output (I/O)-intensive workloads.
Intel Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (Intel AVX-512) doubles the floating point operations per second (FLOPS) per clock cycle compared to the previous-generation. This increase boosts performance for demanding computational tasks, such as modelling and simulation, data analytics, machine learning, data compression, visualization and digital content creation.
Improvements in other areas, such as cryptography, also help performance. Intel QuickAssist Technology provides hardware acceleration for cryptography and data compression, which frees the host processor to focus on other critical workloads.
Intel designed the new processors to provide enhanced platform resiliency, uptime, and protections from threats. The security features will be particularly appealing to enterprises dealing with increasing concerns around data security and privacy. The full range of new or expanded hardware-enhanced features offers stronger platform-level protection mechanisms for trusted service assurance in hybrid-cloud environments.
One of the features that Intel enhanced from its previous-generation processors is Intel Run Sure Technology, which delivers advanced reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) and server uptime for critical workloads. Hardware-assisted capabilities can diagnose and recover from previously fatal errors, and they can help ensure data integrity within the memory subsystem.
Intel QuickAssist Technology with Intel Key Protection Technology and Intel Platform Trust Technology (Intel PTT) can deliver hardware-enhanced platform security by providing efficient key and data protection at rest, in use, and in flight.
And the new Intel One-Touch Activation technology can enhance platform security while providing simplified and scalable deployment for Intel Trusted Execution Technology (Intel TXT).
In addition to performance and security, Intel made several processor enhancements to simplify infrastructure management and add agility. Intel sees the new Intel Xeon Scalable processors as part of a unified set of resources that includes memory, storage, and networking. By intelligently integrating these components with software-ecosystem optimizations, businesses can achieve the modern vision of a fully virtualized data center that dynamically self-provisions resources—on-premises, through the network, and in the public cloud—based on workload needs.
To help accomplish that goal, Intel provides Intel Volume Management Device (Intel VMD) technology, which enables hot-swap replacing of NVMe SSDs from the PCIe bus without shutting down the system. Intel VMD also enhances drive LED management by identifying the status of an individual SSD so IT workers don’t have to manually check LEDs on each server.
New Intel Optane SSDs and Intel 3D NAND SSDs are part of the overall agility and performance story, because they move larger data volumes closer to the CPU for faster backup and storage performance.
And finally, Intel Node Manager 4.0 intelligently manages and optimizes power, cooling, and compute resources in the data center, in order to maximize efficiency and reduce the chances of costly overheating.
Modernize Your Data Center
All the new features that come with the Intel Xeon Scalable processors help support Intel’s efforts to drive business innovation and lower operational expenses in the data center. For example, Intel Xeon Platinum 8100 processors can deliver up to 4.2 times more VM performance compared to four-year-old servers. They can also deliver up to 65 percent lower total cost of ownership (TCO) compared to four-year-old servers.
By demonstrating price, performance, and agility benefits, Intel hopes to encourage businesses to modernize their data center infrastructures. The reality is that most businesses have little choice if they want to remain competitive in the age of digital transformation. Aging infrastructure can’t support the agility needed for hybrid clouds, or the performance and security needed to run high-performance workloads.
 Up to 4.2x more VMs based on server virtualization consolidation workload: Based on Intel internal estimates: one-node, 2 x Intel Xeon processor E5-2690 with 256 GB total memory on VMware ESXi 6.0 GA using guest OS Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.4, glassfish126.96.36.199, postgresql9.2. Data source: request number: 1,718; benchmark: server virtualization consolidation; score: 377.6 at 21 VMs. Compared to one-node, 2 x Intel Xeon Platinum 8180 processor with 768 GB total memory on VMware ESXi 6.0 U3 GA using guest OS RHEL 6 64-bit. Data source: request number: 2,563; benchmark: server virtualization consolidation; score: 1,580 at 90 VMs. Higher is better.
 Up to 65 percent lower four-year TCO estimate example based on equivalent rack performance using VMware ESXi virtualized consolidation workload comparing 20 installed two-socket servers with Intel Xeon processor E5-2690 running VMware ESXi 6.0 GA using guest OS RHEL 6.4 compared at a total cost of $919,362 to five new Intel Xeon Platinum 8180 processors running VMware ESXi 6.0 U3 GA using guest OS RHEL 6 64-bit at a total cost of $320,879 including basic acquisition. Server pricing assumptions based on current OEM retail published pricing for a two-socket server with Intel Xeon processor E5-2690 v4 and two CPUs in four-socket server using Intel Xeon processor E7-8890 v4—subject to change based on actual pricing of systems offered.