Today Intel will be officially starting product discontinuation of ‘M’ medium sized memory Xeon Scalable CPUs. Due to customer feedback and sales figures, Intel has deemed it in the best interests of the product stack to simplify: only two memory configurations (1.5TB and 4.5TB) will remain. Alongside this change comes a very rare price cut: the high memory configuration versions, the L CPUs, will be re-priced to match the old medium memory configuration pricing.

Intel’s standard socketed Cascade Lake-based Xeon Scalable family at launch consisted of 55 models, from the six-core Xeon Bronze 3204 at $213, all the way up to the 28-core Xeon Platinum 8280L at $17906. Most of these models are ‘standard’, without any letter prefix. This indicates support for up to 1.5 TB of memory. Seven of the CPUs were split into three models: standard memory (1.5 TB), medium memory (2 TB, ~$3000 premium), and high memory (4.5 TB, ~$7000 premium). These memory capacities include the use of Optane. Intel’s product discontinuation notice essentially starts the end-of-life procedure for the medium memory processors.

Intel’s reasoning for doing this comes on different fronts. Firstly, these M processors don’t seem to be that popular among Intel’s system integrators. The customer base for the OEMs either took the regular versions with normal memory support and saved ~$3k per CPU, or went for the full fat large memory support, spent the extra $7k, and then realized that the DRAM/Optane cost more than the CPU anyway, so it was worth the jump. The second reason for the product discontinuation notice is basically to simplify the product stack. Intel has already cancelled some of the CPUs, but also extended it at the top end, but keeping track of ~55 socket variants is a bit of a mess. This change reduces the number by seven at least.

The surprising element here is that Intel is also going to pair this product discontinuation with price cuts. All previous large memory CPUs will move down in price to the same price as the medium memory CPUs. This means that the premium now only reduces to ~$3k for wider memory support. The best example of this is with the Xeon Platinum 8280 series. The regular 8280 has a tray price of $10009, while the 8280M had a tray price of $13012 and the 8280L had a tray price of $17906. The 8280M will disappear, and the 8280L will have a new price of $13012.

Price Cuts for Intel Second Generation
Xeon Scalable Family (Cascade Lake)
  Cores Base
Optane Price
Xeon Platinum 8200
8280 L 28 2.7 4.0 38.50 205 Yes $17906 to $13012
8276 L 28 2.2 4.0 38.50 165 Yes $16616 to $11722
8260 L 24 2.4 3.9 25.75 165 Yes $12599 to $7705
8253 L 16 2.2 3.0 35.75 165 Yes ? to ?
Xeon Gold 6200
6240 L 18 2.6 3.9 24.75 150 Yes $10342 to $5448
6238 L 22 2.1 3.7 30.25 140 Yes ? to $5615
Xeon Gold 5200
5215 L 10 2.5 3.4 16.50 85 Yes $9119 to $4224

Unfortunately users who have already invested in M and L processors aren’t likely to see any benefit. If an M processor becomes non-functional, it will depend on the OEM supply if it is replaced. If a user has already spent top dollar on the L version, they’re unlikely to get a refund. The customers who purchased the L processors are likely to be big HPC and big database businesses, for context.

Intel’s official line on the matter is as follows:

Our 2nd Gen Xeon Scalable processors represent Intel’s fastest ramping Xeon processor family. Our customer’s continue to choose Xeon due to the outstanding performance the platform delivers on their real-world workloads. We are consolidating the extended memory offering on the platform based on customer feedback. These changes will simplify our extended memory offerings and provide greater value to our customers.

It is worth noting that the M series does still live on in the Xeon W family. The Xeon W-3275 for example supports 1 TB of DRAM, while the W-3275M supports 2TB. There is no W-3275L model, however I would hope there to be one if Intel decided to start supporting Optane on workstation processors as it has promised in the past.

Intel has told us that updates to its official pricing lists online should occur within the next few days.

Update: ServeTheHome is reporting that the final ordering date for the M CPUs will be 2020-05-22.

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  • Kevin G - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    This would require some support on the Epyc side of things as well. I know a few features are there (memory encryption etc.) but it is not clear if everything is there on-die already to support byte addressable NVDIMMs on Epyc.
  • hunter168 - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    It is very likely and would be mutually beneficial for both AMD and Micron. AMD is taking an open-ecosystem strategy, and would like to adopt whatever the best technology out there, meanwhile Micron also wants to crack the dominance of Intel in high-margin server memory market.
  • eva02langley - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    28 cores, 13k$... still not enough.
  • FreckledTrout - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    AMD's EPYC 7742 which is 64 cores, supports 4TB of max memory and supports 2P(two processors) is selling for under $7K. Only time will tell but I do wonder if these costs will be enough. These larger chips I have to assume will be used for VM's / server consolidation and supporting 4TB is a huge plus and having 128 cores in 2P configuration is also a huge plus.
  • repoman27 - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    “Most of these models are ‘standard’, without any letter prefix.“

    That would be a suffix, not a prefix, seeing as it comes after the rest of the model number.

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