Intel’s new Xeon D-2100 processors are coming to market bearing the Skylake-SP cores and an SoC bristling with connectivity options. Intel pre-announced the processors a few months ago when it released its AMD EPYC server benchmarking, and they also made an appearance on Intel’s recent price list. These new processors are destined for devices on the edge and in NAS, light servers, and networking equipment. Intel’s original Xeon D processors started out with only eight cores and improved to 16 cores in the 1500 series, but the new lineup expands up to 18 cores and 36 threads.
The Xeon D-2100 series packs quite the punch for a BGA mounted processor, and the new generation brings 14nm Skylake-SP cores in tow. We’ve covered the Skylake-SP architecture in-depth in our Xeon Platinum 8176 Scalable Processor Review, so head there for the microarchitecture deep dive.
Intel’s Mesh architecture, which we’ve also covered in-depth, also makes its debut for the Xeon D series. Intel doubled the Xeon D’s memory support to four DDR4-2666 channels with the requisite ECC support; “rebalanced” the cache hierarchy, as we’ve seen with other Skylake-SP cores; and added support for AVX-512 1 FMA. The high-end model reaches up to 3.0GHz with Turbo Boost.
Intel packs quite a bit of capability into the SoC, which makes these hefty processors a powerful solution for a wide range of use cases. Intel is moving forward into the 5G era, so these processors will find themselves in many network-oriented applications, such as software-defined networking infrastructure. Intel tailored the processors for those applications, which starts with a hefty allotment of cores that supports network function virtualization and extends to Quick Assist Technology, which provides up to 100 Gbps of crypto, decryption, and encryption acceleration. That feature, which is built into the SoC on some SKUs, complements the 4 x 10 GbE connectivity nicely. Intel also includes 20 HSI/O lanes.
The processors come in various flavors that span from $213 for a quad-core to $2,407 for the eighteen-core flagship. Curiously, the eighteen-core model comes without integrated 4 x 10 GbE, which may be segmentation at play. The lowest TDP weighs in at 60W and peaks at 100W for the sixteen-core model. Intel also has models available with QuickAssist Technology.
Intel provided some basic performance claims, such as up to 1.6X performance improvement compared to the Xeon D-1500 series, but all of the performance data is relative to Intel’s own previous-generation models. Intel, like other vendors, still isn’t providing performance data that reflects the impact of Spectre and Meltdown mitigations, but we should begin to see those numbers as the patches solidify. We’ve included the test notes below in a click-to-expand format. Intel’s C3000 series will soldier on for low-power applications, while the Xeon D will continue to occupy its space between the Atom and the Xeon Scalable lineup. The processors are available now.