CRN reports that Intel is preparing to refresh its current Skylake X based Xeons with Cascade Lake SP based Xeons, and just like with their Cascade Lake X based HEDT CPUs, these new refreshed CPUs are expected to be significantly cheaper than the current Xeons. Though these CPUs might also have slightly higher clock speeds than their predecessors, it’s unlikely that performance would change in a meaningful way.
This move is not unexpected; AMD’s Zen 2 onslaught has almost made Intel CPUs obsolete. Though the already existing Intel platform, software development, and much larger CPU supply has kept AMD at bay, it is certainly undeniable that AMD is gaining victories at Intel’s expense, primarily in supercomputers and HPC. Compared to Intel’s Xeon server CPUs, AMD’s Epyc server CPUs have more than double the cores, significantly lower power consumption, and much higher memory capacity, though Epyc does lack some AVX support and other (perhaps minor) features. Though AMD’s gains in the server market have been sluggish since 2017 (which is not surprising), even one percent market share represents millions and millions of dollars Intel could lose.
Though CRN couldn’t give specific pricing figures, they were able to obtain a spec sheet with SKU names, core counts, base clock speeds, and TDPs. The main thing to pay attention to are the SKU names, since it reveals some major branding changes. Before, Xeon Gold CPUs capped out at 22 cores, and now they go up to 28, which is the highest core count Xeon you can buy. This would imply that this 28 core CPU will at least be less expensive than the 28 core Xeon Platinum 8180. This Xeon Gold 28 core CPU also has a slightly higher base clock, which means it might be a little bit faster, too, but certainly not fast enough to beat AMD’s Zen 2 Epyc CPUs in most cases.
CRN also suggests that the price cut will fix supply issues for Xeon (where demand is greater than supply), but that’s really unlikely since cutting prices will only raise demand, while supply remains the same. Perhaps Intel has been stockpiling chips behind the scenes, contributing to the CPU shortage, but surely Intel stands to make more money by selling them immediately as already existing SKUs.
Intel refreshing Xeon and cutting prices comes as the ultimate sign that AMD is having an effect on Intel financially, even though AMD isn’t exactly raking in tons of cash from their Epyc CPUs (yet, anyways). Intel is also planning to launch Coooper Lake and Ice Lake server CPUs later this year, the latter being based on the new (and in some ways inferior) 10nm node. AMD is also preparing to launch its Zen 3 based Epyc CPUs, which are expected not to increase core count but increase the speed of each core instead. 2020 might be the most competitive year the server market has seen in quite some time.
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