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Data Center Processors: State of the Industry and How to Keep Up to Date

data center processors industry 2021
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Editor’s note: If you need to sell your cpus, submit a quote and we’ll get you a purchase offer within 1 business day.

*Here at exIT, we have no vested interest in which data center processors you buy. As a result, this article is completely impartial. 

In this article we’ll review recent developments in data center CPU tech, resources to help guide buying decisions, and appealing contenders for the most common CPU use cases. 

Current Leaders and Underdogs of Data Center Processors

Below is a graphical representation of one of the most recent benchmarking tests run on current-gen processors. While the Intel Xeon and AMD Epyc results are within the realm of expectation, the new Ampere ARM contender and Apple’s new chip are certainly standouts. 

newest data center cpu benchmarking results

Intel and AMD – Still Neck and Neck

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the data center CPU sphere for a while, but AMD and Intel continue to trade wins with each successive generation. In some use cases, AMD comes out ahead, while Intel wins in others. 

For example, a general benchmark, the high-performance conjugate gradients (HPCG) benchmark, shows AMD with a modest lead. 

However, a molecular modeling benchmark of a light-sensitive receptor protein shows Intel comfortably in the lead. 

In some cases, per core licensing, costs can be a deterrent for AMD CPU adoption. In other cases, sometimes the comparison is between a single-socket AMD CPU vs a dual-socket Intel CPU where per core licensing costs aren’t substantially different in any case. 

Otherwise, if the environment is not Windows or equivalent where per-core licensing is not an issue, the barrier isn’t relevant. 

Another issue though is live migration between Intel and AMD clusters. 

For many organizations, it’s cost prohibitive to buy a substantial chunk of hardware to switch all at once. 

However, live migration difficulties are not an AMD problem at their core (no pun intended), they’re a software problem. The same issue could arise between Intel generations. 

CPU List
AMD Radeon VII
Xeon Silver 4210
Xeon Gold 5218N
Xeon Gold 5217
Intel Xeon Gold 6234 Processor
Xeon Bronze 3206R
Intel Xeon Gold 6244 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6254 Processor
Xeon Gold 6230R
Xeon Gold 6328H
Intel® Xeon® Gold 6240L Processor
Intel Xeon Silver 4214 Processor
Intel Xeon Platinum 8256 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6252N Processor
Xeon Gold 6230
Intel Xeon Gold 6222V Processor
Intel Xeon Platinum 8276 Processor
Xeon Gold 6328HL
Intel Xeon Gold 6226R Processor
Xeon Gold 5218
Intel Xeon Silver 4214Y Processor
Xeon Platinum 8353H
Xeon Platinum 8376H
Intel Xeon Platinum 9222 Processor
Intel Xeon Bronze 3206R Processor
Intel Xeon Platinum 9242 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 5217 Processor
Intel Xeon Silver 4210T Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6248 Processor
Intel Xeon Platinum 9282 Processor
Intel Xeon Platinum 8380H CPUs
Intel Xeon Silver 4209T Processor
Intel Xeon Platinum 8253 Processor
Xeon Platinum 8260M
Xeon Gold 6226R
Intel Xeon Gold 6226 Processor
Intel Xeon Platinum 8260 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6240 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 5222 Processor
Xeon Gold 5215
Intel Xeon Gold 5220R Processor
Intel® Xeon® Gold 6238T Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6240L Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6258R Processor
Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 Processor
Intel Xeon Silver 4214R Processor
Intel Xeon Silver 4210R Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 5215 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 5220T Processor
Xeon Gold 6230T
Intel Xeon Gold 6242 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 5220S Processor
Xeon Silver 4216
Xeon Gold 5320H
Intel Xeon Platinum 8280L Processor
Xeon Gold 5220S
Intel Xeon Gold 5218T Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6242R Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6209U Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6240R Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6208U Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 5218N Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 5220 Processor
Intel Xeon Silver 4216 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6240Y Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6246 Processor
Xeon Gold 5220
Xeon Gold 6348H
Intel Xeon Gold 6256 Processor
Xeon Platinum 8354H
Intel® Xeon® Gold 6240R Processor
Xeon Silver 4214
Intel Xeon Gold 6230N Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6238L Processor
Xeon Platinum 8380HL
Intel Xeon Platinum 8268 Processor
Intel® Xeon® Bronze 3204 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6262V Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6250L Processor
Intel Xeon Platinum 8276L Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6246R Processor
Intel® Xeon® Gold 6226 Processor
Xeon Silver 4215
Intel Xeon Gold 6248R Processor
Xeon Gold 5222
Intel Xeon Gold 5218B Processor
Xeon Gold 5215L
Intel Xeon Gold 5215L Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 5218R Processor
Xeon Gold 5218R
Xeon Platinum 8376HL
Intel Xeon Silver 4208 Processor
Intel Xeon Silver 4215 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6238 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6230R Processor
Xeon Gold 5218B
Xeon Platinum 8280M
Xeon Gold 6212U
Intel Xeon Gold 5218 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6230T Processor
Xeon Gold 5318H
Intel Xeon Platinum 8260Y Processor
Xeon Gold 5218T
Intel Xeon Platinum 9221 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6238T Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6230 Processor
Intel® Xeon® Gold 6238R Processor
Intel® Xeon® Gold 6240 Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6250 Processor
Xeon Gold 6238L
Intel Xeon Silver 4215R Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6212U Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6238R Processor
Xeon Gold 6234
Intel Xeon Platinum 8260L Processor
Xeon Gold 5220R
Intel Xeon Gold 6210U Processor
Intel Xeon Gold 6252 Processor
Intel Xeon Platinum 8270 Processor
Intel® Xeon® Platinum 9282 Processor
Xeon Gold 6208U

Ampere: ARM Data Center Processors

Even if Ampere’s new Altra chips are promising, even AMD had a long road to gain data center industry buy-in. 

They’re an unknown entity in terms of longevity within the data center. The industry doesn’t know how reliable they are. It’s not certain how they’ll fit into the data center ecosystem. The roadmap and their scalability aren’t established either.

With that said, with an up and coming company that has no market share, any new deal is a boon. 

Small inroads as forward thinkers adopt their hardware slowly may be enough to help them continue improving, 

And Ampere will need to improve significantly, because the technology’s performance and sentiment for ARM architectures are the only two major points of appeal for the hardware. 

If the TCO and performance improvements are astounding, it could make enough of a difference for companies to disregard vendor support or consider switching environments. 


New Apple M1 CPU

Apple’s only really taken one step into the data center CPU industry, but what a step it was. In terms of single-threaded performance, their M1 ARM chip is confidently challenging the performance of any x86 CPU. 

Single-thread performance is an especially meaningful battlefield to win for a few reasons. For one, single-thread performance was handily the territory of the x86 CPU. 

Multi-threaded workloads are also increasingly becoming the purview of multi-purpose GPUs or specialized AI accelerator chips. 

Further, with how developers are working now, the landscape has shifted towards more single-threaded workloads. Backends are made using containers or micro-services to be stateless, more horizontally-scalable, and non-blocking, E.G. react.js or node.js. 

Enterprises won’t necessarily have a great deal of motivation to adopt ARM as their data center CPUs, but developers working with ARM Apple computers will be clamoring for ARM servers to work with before long. 


It’s hard to predict what Nvidia will do now that it’s acquired ARM. 

ARM’s business was in licensing, not manufacturing. Nvidia claims that they will honor the business’s prior operations and relationships. In any case, their acquisition will help them make more strides into IoT, edge computing, and other areas previously the purview of Intel and AMD. 

ARM’s previous licensing agreements with Apple, Samsung, Intel, etc may change how these corporations source their chip designs. 

Nvidia server chips ARM

Resources For Current Data Center Processor Information


Open benchmark data center processors results

Openbenchmarking is an invaluable resource for evaluating data center CPU performance. 

Whether you want to run simple performance checks like video encoding or linux compilation, machine learning via a chess engine, or HPC via massively parallel molecular simulations, the site has a test you can run. 

There are new benchmarks being created all the time, and a good way to keep an ear to the ground on CPU hardware is to check the “latest results” pages for any posted results from data center or enterprise benchmarks.


If you’re looking for details, Dr. Ian Cutress over at Anandtech does great work covering the CPU industry. In CPU comparison articles, they review hardware specifications, prices, release dates, and other typical information you would expect. 

Additionally, they will do pieces investigating the performance of one or several processors according to various benchmarks. 

While the focus is not traditionally on enterprise or data center chips, there are many analyses of workstation CPUs and ECC chips in general. 

They also cover industry events like announcements from the big CPU companies. 


The typical CPU benchmarking sites unfortunately cater to gaming PCs, not servers or workstations. Spec.org on the other hand posts submissions from enterprises of their self-reported benchmarking data. 

There are a number of algorithms used, and the benchmarks are taken from a wide variety of hardware environments. If you need specific data, you can filter by many fields, such as vendor, system, OS, CPU, parallelization, etc. 

You can also use a configurable query form that has many more fields and lets you customize displays. 

If you prefer to work with the data in a raw format, you can also export it easily. 


data center chips test suite phoronix

Phoronix reviews a wide range of hardware, but they’re particularly focused on the Linux environment. Naturally, this means they have a helpful focus on enterprise hardware, and frequently release benchmarks and news of data center processors

They also cover news of recent developments in the open-source industry like patches and OS updates. 

As stated in the introduction, if you need to sell data center hardware, simply get in contact below.

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