Rumor: Intel Prepping Xeon Cascade Lake Refresh to Fight AMD Epyc
Intel’s Cascade Lake family of Xeon parts hasn’t been in-market all that long, but there are rumors the company is queuing up a refresh cycle to introduce new parts at higher core counts and tweaked frequencies. The move is being read as a response to AMD’s 7nm Epyc CPUs. If true, it will better position Intel to compete against its rival throughout the rest of the year.
CRN has compiled data on the rumored launch (Intel isn’t speaking to the issue one way or the other), suggesting we’ll see the following CPUs:
Right now, the Xeon Bronze line tops out at six cores; now Intel will bump that product family up to eight. CPUs like the Xeon Silver 4216R still have 16 CPU cores, like the original 4216, but they reportedly bump TDP to 125W (from 100W) and increase the base clock by 100MHz, implying that the CPU will spend more time in its turbo configuration. The top-end Xeon Gold CPUs like the 6258R will match the current Xeon 8180 Platinum in core count.
Rumors also suggest that Intel is going to make significant adjustments to Xeon pricing that will bring it into line with Cascade Lake’s HEDT prices. I wouldn’t expect those prices to reach parity — even AMD’s server CPUs carry a small premium over their workstation parts, and Intel will follow suit — but we’ll probably see a price cut that brings these Xeon parts more in-line with the current realities of the market.
Every time AMD releases a new quarterly report, there are jitters in the investment market over the supposed performance of the server space. These new launches, if they come to pass, should put paid to that kind of concern. Intel does not change its server SKU pricing on a whim, and it certainly doesn’t cut data center CPU prices for no reason. For the past 2.5 years, AMD has offered server and workstation CPUs in the Epyc and Threadripper families that offered significant advantages over Xeon in certain workloads and competed with them well overall in both performance and performance per watt. Intel’s prices have remained fairly static. The market has validated this approach and rewarded the company with several monster quarters, so this was scarcely the worst tactic from Intel’s own perspective.
If Intel is adjusting its prices now, it’s because Epyc and Threadripper
are beginning to mount a more serious challenge to its market share. That doesn’t mean Intel is going to suddenly be driven out of these markets, but their CPU core counts and price per core sound like they could both be moving in the right direction a few weeks from now.