Intel Xeon Processors Buyers Guide

What is an Intel Xeon CPU or Processor?

The Central Processing Unit, or the CPU, is one of the most critical components to consider when buying or building a new workstation or server or upgrading an existing one. Intel is undoubtedly the biggest player in this market and in this buyer's guide we'll provide an overview of the key Intel Xeon CPU families with suggestions of which to choose depending on your business needs and workloads – from digital content creation and commercial VR applications through to everyday business continuity tasks and high performance computing (HPC).

It is essential when choosing your Xeon CPU (or CPUs if multiple are required) that you choose a compatible motherboard so we'll indicate this for each processor family as we go through them. As Intel has a regular upgrade cycle for their product range it is vital to know if you are looking at the latest generation, and if you’re considering an upgrade what CPU supersedes your current one, so we’ll cover this too.

Xeon is aimed primarily at business workstations and servers. These CPUs typically offer more cores than mainstream PC CPUs, but the clock speeds don’t necessarily directly compare to their Core i7 and i9 counterparts. Xeon CPUs tend to have a lot more built-in, business-critical technology - for example, they support error-correcting code (ECC) memory, which prevents data corruption and system crashes. For businesses where continuous workloads are mission-critical, even a few hours downtime can cost far more than ECC memory is worth. Also Xeon processors support far more RAM than Core range CPUs do, as well as many more PCI-E lanes for connecting expansion cards. With all these extra features, scalability and fail-safes, naturally, the price reflects this.

The Intel Xeon Range Explained

To help customers pick an Intel processor, its chips are split into unique families targeted at the following types of system.

Xeon Scalable Xeon W-3200 Xeon W-2200 Xeon W-1200 Xeon E-2200
MULTI-PROCESSOR WORKSTATION OR SERVER HIGH-END WORKSTATION HIGH-END WORKSTATION MID-RANGE WORKSTATION ENTRY-LEVEL SERVER

Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

Intel Xeon Scalable processors are now in their 3rd generation and deliver industry leading, workload optimised performance, with built-in AI acceleration to help speed data’s transformative impact. The range is so extensive it is subdivided into three types, each designated a colour, Platinum, Gold, and Silver, but all models can be deployed in at least two processors per system, with some models even supporting more than two CPUs per server. These three families of CPU cover all workstation and server uses from entry-level tasks in small organisations all the way up to HPC clusters. It is fair to say that there is overlap between these families and it is always important to view a processor choice with your current and future workloads in mind.

To discuss the most suitable Xeon Scalable CPU option for your server
contact our team of system architects on 01204 474747 or [email protected]

Intel Xeon Platinum

Intel Xeon Platinum 8300 family of processors are the best-in-class option for secure, agile, hybrid-cloud datacentre workloads. With enhanced hardware-based security up to eight socket processor performance, each CPU provides up to 40 cores and 80 threads, support for up to 6TB memory per socket and 64 lanes of PCIe 4.0 lanes for add-in cards and NVMe SSDs. These processors are built for mission-critical applications such as real-time analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and multi-cloud workloads.

Intel Xeon Gold

With support for the higher memory speeds, and enhanced memory capacity, the Xeon Gold 6300 and 5300 families of processors deliver significant improvement in performance, advanced reliability, and hardware-enhanced security. Supporting up to dual-socket configurations, each CPU provides up to 32 cores and 64 threads, support for up to 6TB memory and 64 lanes of PCIe 4.0 lanes for add-in cards and NVMe SSDs. They are optimised for demanding mainstream datacentre, multi-cloud compute, and network and storage workloads.

Intel Xeon Silver

Intel Xeon Silver 4300 family of processors deliver essential performance, improved memory speed, and power efficiency. Supporting up to dual-socket configurations, each CPU provides up to 20 cores and 40 threads, support for up to 6TB memory and 64 lanes of PCIe 4.0 lanes for add-in cards and NVMe SSDs. These processors are ideal for mid-range compute and storage applications.

Memory Configurations

Intel 3rd gen Xeon Scalable Processors have an 8-channel memory controller that supports a total of 6TB of memory, comprising either traditional DDR4 ECC Registered DIMMs or a mixture of the former plus Intel Persistent Memory DIMMs (formerly known as Optane Memory). For instance, you could configure a system with 4TB of DDR4 memory for maximum performance, or 2TB of DDR4 plus 4TB of Persistent Memory for a maximum capacity of 6TB, which can be optimal for caching and storage when using big datasets.

Special Edition Xeon Scalable Processors

You may see that several of the higher spec CPUs have a letter suffix to denote a special feature regarding that particular model. These are explained below:

H - 4-socket capable processor for high performance computing (HPC) use
U - single-socket only processor
L - processor with large memory support
Y - Speed Select processors that can support three different core counts and corresponding core speeds
N - denotes specific frequencies optimised for networking
V - denotes specific frequencies optimised for virtual machines (VMs)
T - denotes a Long Life Cycle / Thermal reliability - ideal for embedded projects
S - denotes specific frequencies optimised for search applications
B - denotes different die configurations between same numbered processors - these should not be mixed

It is worth checking when choosing a processor with a suffix letter that the power supply of your chosen server is compatible as these processor models often have a higher rated TDP or power consumption.

LATEST ACHITECTUREIce Lake SP

COMPATIBLE MOTHERBOARDSC621A / C627A / C629A

PREVIOUS GENERATIONIntel Xeon Scalable 2nd Gen

VIEW XEON SCALABLE PROCESSORS VIEW XEON SCALABLE SYSTEMS

Intel Xeon W-3200 Processors

Intel Xeon W-3200 processors are optimised for advanced workstations in a single-socket solution, offering more cores and PCI-E lanes that the Xeon W-2200 series. These processors are designed for heavily multithreaded, I/O-intensive workloads across architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC), media and entertainment (M&E), artificial intelligence (AI), oil & gas, and data sciences. Xeon W-3200 CPUs provide up to 28 cores and 56 threads, support for up to 2TB DDR4 ECC Registered memory and 64 lanes of PCI-E 3.0 lanes for add-in cards and NVMe SSDs.

LATEST ACHITECTURECascade Lake

COMPATIBLE MOTHERBOARDSC621

PREVIOUS GENERATIONNot applicable – Xeon W-3200 is a new product range

VIEW XEON W-3200 PROCESSORS VIEW XEON W-3200 SYSTEMS

Intel Xeon W-2200 Processors

Intel Xeon W-2200 processors are designed for a wide range of creative professional workstation users. Platforms featuring Intel Xeon W processors deliver outstanding performance, security, and reliability along with expanded platform capabilities for VFX, 3D rendering and complex 3D CAD.

The Xeon W-2200 processor family offer up to 18 cores and 36 threads, support for up to 1TB of DDR4 ECC Registered memory and 48 PCI-E 3.0 lanes for add-in cards and NVMe SSDs.

LATEST ACHITECTURECascade Lake-W

COMPATIBLE MOTHERBOARDSC422

PREVIOUS GENERATIONIntel Xeon W-2100

VIEW XEON W-2200 PROCESSORS VIEW XEON W-2200 SYSTEMS

Intel Xeon W-1200 Processors

AMD EPYC 7002P-series

Designed for mid-range workstations, Intel Xeon W processors provide thoroughbred performance with the built-in platform security features and reliability that professional users demand. A step up from desktop PC Core processors Xeon W processors support ECC memory technology to improve data integrity and system uptime.

The Xeon W-1200 family features up to 10 cores and 20 threads, support for up to 128GB of DDR4 ECC memory and 16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes for add-in cards and NVMe SSDs.

LATEST ACHITECTUREComet Lake

COMPATIBLE MOTHERBOARDSW480

PREVIOUS GENERATIONNot applicable – Xeon W-1200 is a new product range

VIEW XEON W-1200 PROCESSORS VIEW XEON W-1200 SYSTEMS

Intel Xeon E 2200 Processors

Designed for entry-level servers, Intel Xeon E processors provide solid performance with the built-in platform security features and reliability that professional users demand. A step up from desktop PC Core processors Xeon E processors support ECC memory technology to improve data integrity and system uptime.

The Xeon E-2200 family features up to 8 cores and 16 threads, support for up to 128GB of DDR4 ECC memory and 16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes for add-in cards and NVMe SSDs.

LATEST ACHITECTURECoffee Lake

COMPATIBLE MOTHERBOARDSC242

PREVIOUS GENERATIONIntel Xeon E-2100

VIEW XEON E PROCESSORS VIEW XEON E SYSTEMS

Intel Xeon summary

Still not sure which Intel Xeon processor is right for you? This table shows the relative performance and features of the the main ranges of Xeon processor.

Scalable Platinum 8300 Scalable Gold
6300 / 5300
Scalable Silver 4300 W-3200 W-2200s W-1200 E-2200
SMP
SUPPORT
8 4 2
MAX CORES
/ THREADS
40/80 32/64 20/40 28/56 18/36 10/20 8/16
MAX BASE
CLOCK SPEED
2.6GHz 3.6GHz 2.8GHz 3.7GHz 4.0GHz 4.1GHz 4.0GHz
MAX TURBO CLOCK 3.7GHz 3.7GHz 3.6GHz 3.7GHz 4.0GHz 4.1GHz 4.0GHz
MEMORY TYPE DDR4 EEC Registered DDR4 EEC
Registered
DDR4 EEC Registered DDR4 EEC Registered DDR4 EEC Registered DDR4 EEC DDR4
EEC
MAX MEMORY
CHANNELS
8 8 8 6 4 2 2
MAX MEMORY
SPEED
3200MHz 3200/2933/2666MHz 2666MHz 2933MHz 2933MHz 2933MHz 2666MHz
MAX MEMORY
SUPPORTED
6TB* 6TB* 6TB* 1TB 1TB 128GB 128GB
PCI-E
VERSION
4.0 4.0 4.0 3.0 3.0 3.0 3.0
PCI-E
MAX LANES
64 64 64 64 48 16 16
SOCKET 4189 4189 4189 3647 2066 1200 1151

* 6TB achieved through a combination of DDR4 and Persistent Memory, see Memory Configurations section for further information.

We hope this guide has proved helpful in providing some insight as to which Intel Xeon processor may best suit your server requirement, but if you’re still in need of guidance don’t hesitate to contact our team of system architects on 01204 474747 or [email protected]