Intel’s Skylake-SP Processors: Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze

In a break from the traditional naming scheme that Intel has used for several generations, we saw the move to Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze SKUs for Skylake-SP. We’re told there is no real conversion between the two, and to some extent Intel is correct: it’s almost impossible to correlate what the conversion from the old chip naming is to the new chip naming is, but also Intel has decided to awkwardly complicate what the numbers in the middle mean, with no real direct pattern to follow on some of the digits. This is the diagram provided:

Aside from the name (Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze), the four digits indicate SKU level, Generation, and then a pair of digits for general performance level. After this there are a series of potential suffixes:

  • M = Supports 1.5 TB DRAM per socket, up from 768GB as standard
  • T = High T-Case, Extended Life
  • F = Integrated OmniPath Fabric

This leads to the following lists for the processors. We have sorted these into numerical order, which may be different to Intel’s pricing or specification lists. First up is the Platinum parts, geared for up to 8-Socket use.

Xeon Platinum

So what is the "Platinum" all about? We were told at the briefing:

"One of the reasons for this is that sometimes a customer could take advantage of an 8-socket variant processor (due to high cache per core, for example), but would never consider it because the customer only needed a two-socket configuration. One of the reasons given for the naming is to alleviate this issue."

There is no longer an E7, but if you look at the prices ($3000-$13000) and features, the Xeon Platinum is clearly the successor to the E7. There is support for up to 8 sockets, and most of the Platinum SKUs have 24 to 28 cores, and is clearly using the XCC silicon.

Intel Xeon Skylake-SP Platinum Series
  Segment Cores Base
(GHz)
Turbo
(GHz)
L3
(MB)
L3/core
(MB)
TDP
(W)
Price
(USD)
8180   Per-Core 28 2.5 3.8 38.50 1.375 205 $10009
8180 M 2xDRAM 28 2.5 3.8 38.50 1.375 205 $13011
8176   Perf/Watt 28 2.1 3.8 38.50 1.375 165 $8719
8176 M 2xDRAM 28 2.1 3.8 38.50 1.375 165 $11722
8176 F OmniPath 28 2.1 3.8 38.50 1.375 173 $8874
8170   Perf/Watt 26 2.1 3.7 35.75 1.375 165 $7405
8170 M 2xDRAM 26 2.1 3.7 35.75 1.375 165 $10409
8168   Per-Core 24 2.7 3.7 33.00 1.375 205 $5890
8164   Perf/Watt 26 2.0 3.7 35.75 1.375 150 $6114
8160   Perf/Watt 24 2.1 3.7 33.00 1.375 150 $4702
8160 M 2xDRAM 24 2.1 3.7 33.00 1.375 150 $7704
8160 T 10yr Life 24 2.1 3.7 33.00 1.375 150 $4936
8160 F OmniPath 24 2.1 3.7 33.00 1.375 160 $4856
8158   Per-Core 12 3.0 3.7 24.75 2.063 150 $7007
8156   Per-Core 4 3.6 3.7 16.50 4.125 105 $7007
8153   Perf/Watt 16 2.0 2.8 22.00 1.375 125 $3115

I suppose the first thing to note is the pricing. If you want the extended DRAM version of the 28-core CPU, be prepared to shell out $13k for the tray pricing. That is almost 2x the cost of the highest-end previous generation part, and becomes a sizeable chunk of any build. The standard DRAM support version is ‘only’ $10k. For anyone around the $7-8k per CPU budget, like last generation, you can still get a 28-core processor in the form of the 8176, or 8170 if you can give up a couple of cores.

With the double DRAM supported parts, the 30% premium seems rather high. We were told from Intel that ‘only 0.5% of the market actually uses those quad ranked and LR DRAMs’, although that more answers the fact that the base support is 768GB, not that the 1.5GB parts have an extra premium.

This pricing seems crazy, but it is worth pointing out a couple of things. The companies that buy these parts, namely the big HPC clients, do not pay these prices. They’ll likely pay under half these prices, and probably much less. Nonetheless, this is still a sizeable jump over the last generation – exact pricing for the top tier customers will be in their contracts, but it has been predicted by some analysts that there might be a small outcry, even from Intel’s largest customers.

A few users might be confused about the Platinum 8156, a quad core part at $7007. This is a high cache/core part, offering 4.125 MB of L3 per core, up from 1.375MB per core for the standard parts. Intel has offered these parts for a few generations now, for customers that find their code to be L3 sensitive or have licensing agreements base on per-core/per-socket as well. What customers will have to note is that Skylake-SP has a different L3 cache compared to previous generations, by being a non-inclusive cache (and essentially a victim cache) means it will be used very differently. With a larger L2 cache as well, the L3 might become less important, or the fact it becomes a victim cache might make it useful/useless on the code. For customers after these sorts of cores, it is worth profiling the code on the CPU first, just to make sure.

Xeon Gold

Despite some of the nuance, the Platinum processor list is easy to follow, especially by comparison to the Gold list. The Gold processors are technically split into two groups, the Gold 6100 series, and Gold 5100 series: split in their DRAM and AVX-512 support, as well as the number of UPI links.

The Gold 6100-series will have 2 FMA units per core rather than one, showing that the Port-5 FMA is enabled and can feed the AVX-512 unit better for up to 2x performance. (This is similar to what we saw with the consumer Skylake-X parts, where >10-core parts have both FMAs enabled.) The 6100-series also has DDR4-2666 support, whereas the 5100-series is limited to DDR4-2400 as standard.

There’s also a matter of UPI links to other processors. This matters when these processors are in a quad-socket system: with only 2 UPI links for the 5100-series, that means the processors are in a ring arrangement, rather than a hatch-arrangement, and to access data on the opposite side of the ring requires two hops, rather than the one hop on the hatch. This is perhaps a niche issue, but one worth taking note of.

Intel Xeon Skylake-SP Gold Series
  Segment Cores Base
(GHz)
Turbo
(GHz)
L3
(MB)
L3/core
(MB)
TDP
(W)
Price
(USD)
6154   Per-Core 18 3.0 3.7 24.75 1.375 200 $3543
6152   Perf/Watt 22 2.1 3.7 30.25 1.375 140 $3655
6150   Per-Core 18 2.7 3.7 24.75 1.375 165 $3358
6148   Per-Core 20 2.4 3.7 27.50 1.375 150 $3072
6148 F OmniPath 20 2.4 3.7 27.50 1.375 160 $3227
6146   Per-Core 12 3.2 4.2 24.75 2.063 165 $3286
6144   Per-Core 8 3.5 4.2 24.75 3.094 150 $2925
6142   Per-Core 16 2.6 3.7 22.00 1.375 150 $2946
6142 M 2x DRAM 16 2.6 3.7 22.00 1.375 150 $5949
6142 F OmniPath 16 2.6 3.7 22.00 1.375 160 $3101
6140   Perf/Watt 18 2.3 3.7 24.75 1.375 140 $2445
6140 M 2x DRAM 18 2.3 3.7 24.75 1.375 140 $5448
6138   Perf/Watt 20 2.0 3.7 27.50 1.375 125 $2612
6138 T 10yr Life 20 2.0 3.7 27.50 1.375 125 $2742
6138 F OmniPath 20 2.0 3.7 27.50 1.375 135 $2767
6136   Per-Core 12 3.0 3.7 24.75 2.063 150 $2460
6134   Per-Core 8 3.2 3.7 24.75 3.094 130 $2214
6134 M 2x DRAM 8 3.2 3.7 24.75 3.094 130 $5217
6132   Per-Core 14 2.6 3.7 19.25 1.375 140 $2111
6130   Perf/Watt 16 2.1 3.7 22.00 1.375 125 $1894
6130 T 10yr Life 16 2.1 3.7 22.00 1.375 125 $1988
6130 F OmniPath 16 2.1 3.7 22.00 1.375 135 $2049
6128   Per-Core 6 3.4 3.7 19.25 3.208 115 $1691
6126   Per-Core 12 2.6 3.7 19.25 1.604 125 $1776
6126 T 10yr Life 12 2.6 3.7 19.25 1.604 125 $1865
6126 F OmniPath 12 2.6 3.7 19.25 1.604 135 $1931
5122   Per-Core 4 3.6 3.7 16.50 4.125 105 $1221
5120   Perf/Watt 14 2.2 3.2 19.25 1.375 105 $1555
5120 T 10yr Life 14 2.2 3.2 19.25 1.375 105 $1727
5119 T 10yr Life 14 1.9 - 19.25 1.375 85 $1555
5118   Perf/Watt 12 2.3 3.2 16.50 1.375 105 $1273
5115   Perf/Watt 10 2.4 3.2 13.75 1.375 85 $1221

Why all those differences between the two grades of Gold did not result in a separate "grade" for the 51xx is beyond me. For example, for the HPC people, the 51xx gets you slower DRAM and half the FP peak performance. The only logical way to describe the Gold grade is "the 4 socket version with wildly varying features".

Xeon Silver and Xeon Bronze

After 16 CPUs for Platinum and 32 CPUs in Gold, the Silver and Bronze parts only have 10 in total. These parts support two sockets at most, and only up to 12 cores, showing that Intel’s market segmentation strategy has changed significantly here. In the last generation, a customer could get a dual-socket high-core-count part like the E5-2699A v4 without the need to look at 8-socket parts, but now Intel has that limited such that you have to look at Gold or Platinum processors to play in this space.

As with the Gold 5100 series, these Silver and Bronze parts only have 1 FMA per core for the AVX-512. The Silver parts support DDR4-2400, hyperthreading, and UPI at 9.6 GT/s (down from 10.4 GT/s on Gold), compared to the Bronze CPUs that use DDR4-2133, no hyperthreading, the slower UPI, but also slower in general – peak frequencies are at 1.7 GHz with AVX-512 at 0.8 GHz.

Intel Xeon Skylake-SP Silver and Bronze Series
  Segment Cores Base
(GHz)
Turbo
(GHz)
L3
(MB)
L3/core
(MB)
TDP
(W)
Price
(USD)
4116   Perf/Watt 12 2.1 3.0 16.50 1.375 85 $1002
4116 T 10yr Life 12 2.1 3.0 16.50 1.375 85 $1112
4114   Perf/Watt 10 2.2 3.0 13.75 1.375 85 $694
4114 T 10yr Life 10 2.2 3.0 13.75 1.375 85 $773
4112   Perf/Watt 4 2.6 3.0 5.50 1.375 85 $473
4110   Perf/Watt 8 2.1 3.0 11.00 1.375 85 $501
4109 T 10yr Life 8 2.0 3.0 11.00 1.375 70 $501
4108   Perf/Watt 8 1.8 3.0 11.00 1.375 85 $417
3106   Perf/Watt 8 1.7 - 11.00 1.375 85 $306
3104   Perf/Watt 6 1.7 3.0 8.25 1.375 85 $213

Overview

It is worth noting that Intel’s documents, such as the price lists do not list these parts in numerical order. At times the higher core count part will be listed higher than a lower core count part with more cache/frequency, and this will be non-obvious, especially when quick glancing. In general, the higher the number, the higher the raw performance is (Cores, frequency), but this does not always hold true.

The Platinum 8170 (165W) has only 2 cores (8%, 26 vs 24) more than the 8168 (205W), but the latter has an almost 30% higher frequency (2.7 vs 2.1). So maybe the higher the number, the better the performance/watt? This doesn’t hold either, because the 8164 (150W) runs 26 cores at a 2 GHz. The Gold 6144 and 6142 look very similar, but the former is an 8-core at 3.5 GHz (with 25 MB of L3), while the latter is a 16-core at 2.6 GHz (with 22 MB L3).

The new numbering and grade scheme has some merits, but there are still too many exceptions to rely on it. Especially the Gold grade having two sets of parts, and the last two numbers are not logical at all. You will still need to decipher every SKU at ark.intel.com to know what you are buying.

Intel's Optimized Turbo Profiles & Summing It Up Intel’s Turbo Modes
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  • TheOriginalTyan - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    Another nicely written article. This is going to be a very interesting next couple of months. Reply
  • coder543 - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    I'm curious about the database benchmarks. It sounds like the database is tiny enough to fit into L3? That seems like a... poor benchmark. Real world databases are gigabytes _at best_, and AMD's higher DRAM bandwidth would likely play to their favor in that scenario. It would be interesting to see different sizes of transactional databases tested, as well as some NoSQL databases. Reply
  • psychobriggsy - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    I wrote stuff about the active part of a larger database, but someone's put a terrible spam blocker on the comments system.

    Regardless, if you're buying 64C systems to run a DB on, you likely will have a dataset larger than L3, likely using a lot of the actual RAM in the system.
    Reply
  • roybotnik - Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - link

    Yea... we use about 120GB of RAM on the production DB that runs our primary user-facing app. The benchmark here is useless. Reply
  • haplo602 - Thursday, July 13, 2017 - link

    I do hope they elaborate on the DB benchmarks a bit more or do a separate article on it. Since this is a CPU article, I can see the point of using a small DB to fit into the cache, however that is useless as an actual DB test. It's more an int/IO test.

    I'd love to see a larger DB tested that can fit into the DRAM but is larger than available caches (32GB maybe ?).
    Reply
  • ddriver - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    We don't care about real world workloads here. We care about making intel look good. Well... at this point it is pretty much damage control. So let's lie to people that intel is at least better in one thing.

    Let me guess, the databse size was carefully chosen to NOT fit in a ryzen module's cache, but small enough to fit in intel's monolithic die cache?

    Brought to you by the self proclaimed "Most Trusted in Tech Since 1997" LOL
    Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    I'm getting tweets saying this is a severely pro AMD piece. You are saying it's anti-AMD. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Reply
  • ddriver - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    Well, it is hard to please intel fanboys regardless of how much bias you give intel, considering the numbers.

    I did not see you deny my guess on the database size, so presumably it is correct then?
    Reply
  • ddriver - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    In the multicore 464.h264ref test we have 2670 vs 2680 for the xeon and epyc respectively. Considering that the epyc score is mathematically higher, howdoes it yield a negative zero?

    Granted, the difference is a mere 0.3% advantage for epyc, but it is still a positive number.
    Reply
  • Headley - Friday, July 14, 2017 - link

    I thought the exact same thing Reply

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