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Xeon vs i7

January 30, 2013 5:28:26 PM

I was wondering about why exactly xeon's are so good as cpu's, and what makes them better than i7's. I realize that xeon's are mainly only used in high-performance machines rather than desktops, but that I am interested in getting a high performance workstation for numerical computations.

The following
lists cpu's in terms of their performance on apparently thousands of benchmarks and it clearly shows that that the best cpu's out there right now are the xeon E5's.

What I don't understand is what makes the xeon so good and why it might be better than an i7, for example.
In particular, the Intel Core i7-3970X has a clock speed of 3.5 GHz, 6 cores, and memory bandwidth of 51.2 GB/s.
By contrast, the Intel Xeon E5-2690 has a clock speed of 2.90GHz, 8 cores, 51.2 GB/s.
Both are based on the sandybridge microarchitecture.

The obvious difference between the xeon and the i7 is the more cores in the former, and then there is also the matter of xeon's being usable in dual and quad socket motheboards and allowing for a huge amount of ram (up to 1.5TB vs up to 64GB for the i7). Are these differences the only reason why people would pay roughly double for a xeon E5 compared to an i7, or am I missing something more subtle in the nature of the hardware.

I'm primarily just curious from the price/performance point of view, but I'd also like to know a bit more about the hardware.


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