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What is the difference between the intel i7 and intel xeon processors?

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April 30, 2010 9:41:04 PM

I am looking to purchase a top of the line computer for graphic design purposes and am not sure what the key differences are between the Intel i7 quad and the Intel Xeon quad processors. Your input is appreciated.
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April 30, 2010 10:14:54 PM

Xeons are higher binned, Core i7 processors essentially, and the Xeons are designed for servers and workstations. In terms of performance, they should be around the same, although I heard that dual CPU socket processor Xeons have an extra QPI link, although I'm not sure what it is or how much of a performance boost you should get.

A Xeon W3520 is a Core i7 920 for example, and a Xeon X3460 is a Core i7 860. However, you'd probably be better off with a Core i7 900 processor or Xeon equivalent - triple channel memory will probably help with heavy graphic design.
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May 1, 2010 12:21:58 AM

^ Correct.

Also realize that you WILL need a Xeon if you plan to get a 2P workstation. By the sound of it, it seems as if you are looking for a high end CAD/rendering type workstation.
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May 1, 2010 6:51:22 AM

From my experiences (although limited) both are just renames of their server/desktop counterparts, and perform similarly with slightly different power requirements.

I think..
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May 1, 2010 8:01:01 AM

Lmeow said:
I heard that dual CPU socket processor Xeons have an extra QPI link, although I'm not sure what it is or how much of a performance boost you should get.


It's not there for general performance purposes, it's there to enable fast communication between two processors.
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May 1, 2010 8:16:29 AM

Thanks for the info Crashman. Does this mean the two CPUs work together better, like if they were graphic cards they would scale better together in terms of CrossFireX/SLI?
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May 1, 2010 8:40:37 AM

Lmeow said:
Thanks for the info Crashman. Does this mean the two CPUs work together better, like if they were graphic cards they would scale better together in terms of CrossFireX/SLI?


You can think of it like an SLI or CrossFire bridge, but you actually need them for interprocessor communication.

Intel has been disabling interprocessor communication on desktop CPUs since at least the P4 launch, probably earlier. You used to be able to run SMP on a basic desktop Pentium, and Intel even forgot to disable SMP on early Celerons.
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May 1, 2010 9:10:54 AM

Even though i7 & Xeon perform equally fast, Xeons have an upper edge in terms of future upgrades. You cannot upgrade i7 further if you want more power in future, RAM is also limited to just 16GB. But with XEON workstations you can add yet another processor & make it DUAL XEON with 12 cores in future. It also supports memory up to 96GB & even more.

Xeon X5650 workstation will cost you around $400 more if compared to i7-980X Desktop.
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May 1, 2010 9:23:32 AM

Quote:
You can think of it like an SLI or CrossFire bridge, but you actually need them for interprocessor communication.


Thanks for that, it's a good analogy.

Quote:
Even though i7 & Xeon perform equally fast, Xeons have an upper edge in terms of future upgrades. You cannot upgrade i7 further if you want more power in future, RAM is also limited to just 16GB. But with XEON workstations you can add yet another processor & make it DUAL XEON with 12 cores in future. It also supports memory up to 96GB.

Xeon X5650 workstation will cost you around $400 more if comared to i7-980X Desktop.


AFAIK, Core i7 900 series support up to 24GB of RAM, although they do not support ECC. Besides, for OP, I'd think 24GB should be enough.
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May 1, 2010 9:31:45 AM

It would be nice to know exactly what apps the OP intends to use...
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May 1, 2010 9:46:01 AM

@Lmew

Quote:
AFAIK, Core i7 900 series support up to 24GB of RAM, although they do not support ECC. Besides, for OP, I'd think 24GB should be enough


As far as i know, Intel recommends only DX58SO board for 'i7-980X' & it only supports upto 16Gb.

http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/dx58s...
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May 1, 2010 9:52:42 AM

andy55 said:
@Lmew

Quote:
AFAIK, Core i7 900 series support up to 24GB of RAM, although they do not support ECC. Besides, for OP, I'd think 24GB should be enough


As far as i know, Intel recommends only DX58SO board for 'i7-980X' & it only supports upto 16Gb.

http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/dx58s...

Oh gawd, someone paying attention to Intel recommendations again. I've been shooting those down for years, here's some proof:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/navigating-memory-u...
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May 1, 2010 10:15:03 AM

Well, I've seen people running them in EVGA X58 SLI Classifieds, or the Gigabyte X58A-UD7. Intel recommends you to run your CPU at stock speeds, so then you shouldn't overclock it but people do anyway.
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May 1, 2010 11:35:41 AM

I was just putting the info in-case OP is only interested in 100% INTEL INSIDE, otherwise no contradiction.
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