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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  • spikebike - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    Makes sense, anything to slow the migration to the AMD Epyc CPUs. Why pay a premium just to be able to address more RAM, AMD doesn't.
  • IntelUser2000 - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    The 2TB M never made any sense. The CPU supports 6-channels and 2DPC, so that means 1.5TB for 128GB, 3TB for 256GB, and 4.5TB with 256GB DRAM and 512GB Optane is the most logical configuration.

    In order to reach 2TB, you need some channels to be in asynchronous channel mode with total of 16 slots. 16 doesn't evenly divide into 6.
  • IntelUser2000 - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    And speaking philosophically, I bet the economy will have less drastic ups and downs if companies with market dominance stabilized their prices rather than pricing it to the level of limit and quickly reducing it when faced with stiff competition.

    What if say they priced the top chip "L" at $6k for example?

    Then investors cry when the market crashes massively. Let's say if the drops were less severe(conversely that means the gains are less severe too). Stability is better even if it means the potential wins are reduced.
  • FunBunny2 - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    "And speaking philosophically, I bet the economy will have less drastic ups and downs if companies with market dominance stabilized their prices"

    you must be some left-wing Red Nut!!! :) oligopolies through to out-right monopolies always do exactly the opposite, in order to max profit: it's called market segmentation and it max profit by taking what the econ types call 'consumer surplus'. if you look at econ supply/demand curves with the 'price' determined at the crossing point, you see that there are some (perhaps a lot) consumers to the left of the equilibrium price who are willing to pay more. identify them and charge them. most STEM graduates are engaged in that very task for corporations.
  • IntelUser2000 - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    Actually if I were to pick a side I'd be right wing. I'm in Canada but if I were to vote I'd probably have voted for trump.

    Realistically speaking though, I believe politicians in general are mediocre to rule at best. After all, they are looking for their own best interests.

    I agree about your view, but taken to the extreme, it just makes me question things. Does it always have to be *that* way?
  • Dragonstongue - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    Cheers user, I see it the same way you just wrote the statements you have made.

    Just cause it always has been done a certain way, and the massive companies want to price things as they do, should they, and why on earth does anyone support such "game play"

    I am sure it hurts EVERYONE, maybe not the company making the massive profits, but everyone who is not, as they certainly pay for it, likely many times over.

    Dead by trillions of paper cuts this world is coming to O.o
  • lefty2 - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    Yes, to go past 1.5TB you need to use 256GB DIMMs, or 512GB Optane DIMMs - both extremely expensive options - 256GB DIMMs are so rare and expensive that they are not even listed online.
    The sales of L models has to be very low.
  • btkcsd - Tuesday, February 9, 2021 - link

    If you have a system with 2 or 4 sockets, each socket's memory is visible to the other sockets. So a 4 socket system can have 3TB with ordinary 64GB DIMMs (4 x 12 x 64GB).
  • AshlayW - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    Thanks to AMD, essentially. Intel's stranglehold on the industry is starting to break.
  • Irata - Thursday, January 16, 2020 - link

    Well, at least we know it can't be due to their iGPU security bug (check Phoronix) as it's a server CPU.

    Competition that offers extended memory at standard prices perhaps ?

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