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Intel Pits Xeon Scalable Against AMD EPYC In Server Processor Benchmark Showdown

Intel has gone through the trouble to set up some benchmarks comparing its Intel Xeon Scalable Processor (Skylake-SP) in a two-socket configuration to the performance of the dual CPU Xeon E5026xx v4 (Broadwell-EP) and the dual socket AMD EPYC 7601 processor systems. Intel is also clear that these benchmarks are externally published and that the results are third-party auditable. Intel really doesn't want anyone crying foul when it comes to any comparisons with the top server chips from AMD. 

xeon platinum 7

It should be noted, however, that Intel used its own compilers for these tests. On the AMD system, it used a combination of GNU open source and Open64 LLVM compilers. Intel does state that the software and workloads used in performance tests might have been optimized for performance on the Intel processors. The benchmarks run the competing systems through a number of tests or energy efficiency, general computing, virtualization, technical computing, online transaction databases, server-side Java workloads, and Analytics.

xeon comp external be

The only Epyc tests that were available for comparison were in general computing and technical computing. The Intel-based systems handily trounce the EPYC system in those tests. However, Intel clearly doesn't come right out and talk about AMD's huge advantage when it comes to EPYC -- pricing. Intel's Xeon Platinum 8160M processor has an MSRP of $13,011. On the other hand, AMD's EPYC 7601 is priced at around $4,800.

xeon internal measure

NextPlatform also did some of its own analysis into Intel's performance claims. It spoke to Dave Hill, head of the Data Center Group product marketing arm at Intel. Hill does admit that in Intel's own testing internally of the EPYC platform, AMD did grab the lead in some benchmarks, especially with regards to memory sensitive workloads.


"What we are seeing at a high level is that we are leading on the majority of the workloads, but AMD does lead on some memory bound workloads," Hill tells The Next Platform. "As far as the key thing of performance per core, a lot of cloud workloads have grown up around the single-threaded performance of Xeon in the past ten years, and that is one of our key advantages. There is always a single-threaded bottleneck in some workload somewhere."

performance core

Another interesting tidbit of note is that Intel's own Xeon SP-6148 Gold chip is less than half the price of the high-end Xeon Platinum 8160M, and its performance is very close to that of its more expensive sibling. Interestingly, there has been indications that Intel is planning to become more price competitive, given AMD's resurgence in a market. And we can't forget that Qualcomm is looking to make waves as well with its Centriq 2400 family of ARM-based server processors. Qualcomm is promising competitive performance, lower power consumption and value pricing to win over customers from Intel and AMD.

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