Intel Scalable Skylake processors – How do they really perform?

Leaseweb is now offering Intel’s latest range of processors, named Intel Scalable (sometimes referred to as Skylake). As with any new release from leading hardware companies, many customers are asking us whether these new processors are worth the hype.

Probably the most prescient feature is the improved hardware security. The Meltdown and Spectre flaws highlighted some serious vulnerabilities that Intel were able to address, but with some performance implications. While the security impacts were hotly contested1 2, essentially everybody agreed that some impact occurred. Not surprisingly Intel have addressed these vulnerabilities whilst showing some significant overall performance increases. Update: New vulnerabilities have been shown known as the L1TF or Foreshadow that still effects the Skylake processors3. Intel have also boasted a host of new proprietary features including Advanced Vector Extension 512, QuickAssist technology, Integrated Ethernet. Whilst it’s tough to assess each of these features individually, a host of independent tests suggest the hype is worth paying attention to.

Intel claim a performance improvement of up to 1.59x in complex, high workload environments such as SAP HANA4. This is exciting news for customers looking to optimize their big data workloads. According to a different study by PCWorld, the Skylake range outperform the latest AMD Ryzen, even while overclocked5.

A larger study run by Dell (a major supplier to Leaseweb) showed significant performance increases of up to 67%6 over the previous generation Broadwell-EP processors using the High Performance Conjugate Gradient (HPCG) benchmark7. The significance of this test is that it is specific to testing performance over large complex applications that are most relevant to today’s CPU intensive cloud applications. For typical Leaseweb customers this is a far better measure than the typical single CPU tests favored by consumers when comparing PC and gaming performance.

As far as we are concerned the data are in, and it’s pretty damn impressive. Intel have managed to do something quite special with this release and we at Leaseweb are excited to able to partner with Intel to being these new CPUs to our customers.

  1. Google and Amazon say the performance hit from the ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ fixes is overblown
  2. Kernel-memory-leaking Intel processor design flaw forces Linux, Windows redesign
  3. Foreshadow
  4. Intel Shows 1.59x Performance Improvement in Upcoming Intel Xeon Processor Scalable Family
  5. Which CPU is best: Intel or AMD Ryzen?
  6. HPCG Performance study with Intel Skylake processors
  7. HPCG Benchmark
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