Today we have one of the strangest announcements I have ever seen from Intel. We have the re-launch of the Intel Xeon E-2100 for servers. If you are a regular STH reader, you probably have seen our Intel Xeon E-2100 Launch Coverage Central on STH. We have reviewed server/ workstation motherboards Supermicro X11SCA-F Review for Intel Xeon E-2100 CPUs and you may have seen benchmarks of several SKUs in our Intel Core i3-8100 Benchmarks and Review Low-Cost Server Processor (see page 2.) Imagine our surprise a few days ago when Intel told us they were going to launch the Intel Xeon E-2100 line for servers. Intel Xeon Gold 5218
Just as a personal anecdote, when I was young, we did not have a lot of money as a family. My mother used to take things from my sister and my closets, wrap them, and give them to us for special occasions. That is the picture of what Intel is doing on this one. We have the same parts, but now we are going to call them “server” parts. This is despite the fact Intel has a long history of re-branding consumer parts with ECC support and calling them server/ workstation parts. We chronicled that history through 6+ generations here: Looking back at Intel Xeon E3-1200 V1-V6 to the New Xeon E-2100.
My original thought was that the November launch was going to be of the 8-core Intel Xeon E-2100 series parts since we had 6-core parts for the first time over a quarter ago. Given the amazing supply constraints of the Intel Core i9-9900K, perhaps Intel simply cannot manufacture 8-core Intel Xeon E-2100 parts in quantity. We expect these will come out in time as Intel has, for almost a decade (since Lynnfield/ Sandy Bridge) added ECC to consumer parts and called them server parts. Apparently, we are not getting 8-core Intel Xeon E-2100 with this launch.
Born Again: The Intel Xeon E-2100 Server Re-Launch
Here is the Intel Xeon E-2100 server marketing slide. The key points are 6 cores, and up to 4.7GHz. That is excellent for this class of server. A claim of 128GB support is forward-looking for when 32GB ECC UDIMMs arrive on the market. We wish Intel would simply enable RDIMM support which would allow lower cost high capacities.
Since Intel is re-launching the same Xeon E-2100 parts, you can check out our Intel Xeon E-2100 Series Launch SKUs and Value Analysis. Here is a quick portion of the SKU list and some analysis of the pricing methodology Intel is using for the parts.
Intel provided the Xeon E-2100 per core turbo frequencies. You can see that there is relatively little differentiation between the SKUs. Our benchmark data will draw this out a bit more.
We still have the same 10 SKUs with the “G” parts denoting iGPU enabled parts.
Intel Xeon E-2100 Mehlow Server Platform
We covered the platform itself in our Intel Xeon E-2100 An Updated Platform and Market Segment piece. Here is the platform overview slide.
We have up to 64GB today, and platforms will support up to 128GB with the release of 32GB ECC UDIMMs in 2019.
Intel Xeon E-2100 Server Ecosystem
Intel has a number of partners for its launch. We are going to review platforms from several of the vendors on here, and have had hands-on time with others.
One of the more interesting names on the list is OVH. OVH is known to assemble their own servers and is a cloud hosting provider. OVH is also well known as a dedicated hosting provider. This class of server processor is highly optimized for low-cost operation. Even basic features like 10GbE networking and RDIMM support we find on every other server platform, including the Intel Atom C3000 series, are absent. In the highly cost sensitive dedicated hosting market, these omissions are acceptable.
Intel is also pushing its SGX secure enclaves. These are the same SGX enclaves that the L1TF Foreshadow Flaw Targets Intel SGX and Virtual Machines. Cloud providers that are offering SGX secure enclaves Intel is also mentioning.
There are some big names on the list, and Alibaba Cloud is on another slide. Between the OEMs and cloud providers, Intel has broad industry support.
Some days, it feels like Yogi Bera’s famous quote “it’s deja vu all over again.” The Intel Xeon E-2100 server series launching today encompasses the same ten CPU SKUs as the workstation parts we covered almost four months ago. These are the same parts that have already crept into our benchmark data sets.
You may be wondering why we have not posted reviews of the systems and processors yet. After we learned that Intel was re-launching the chips we voluntarily agreed to hold off on publishing benchmarks of the new server CPUs. As soon as the embargo is lifted in a few hours so that we can release reviews of the CPUs that were released over three months ago and the systems from vendors that Intel is revealing today.
If this whole launch seems strange to our readers, just think of it as my mother wrapped some old Legos (the 10 Intel Xeon E-2100 SKUs launched in July) and is giving them as a present to us today. There is no new piece such as an 8-core SKU to bring parity to the consumer side.
To learn more about the Intel Xeon E-2100 series, check out our Intel Xeon E-2100 Launch Coverage Central on STH.