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Power Consumption And Noise

Haswell-Based Xeon E3-1200: Three Generations, Benchmarked

With each successive generation, from Sandy Bridge to Haswell, Intel made deliberate efforts to improve platform efficiency, measured in performance per watt. Ivy Bridge benefited from a transition to 22 nm manufacturing. Haswell incorporates some specific operating state improvements that help bring down idle power use, though we noticed on the desktop that efficiency isn't always significantly better. Those same trends carry over to our comparative look at Intel's Xeon E3-1275 across three generations.

At idle, the Haswell-based Xeon E3-1275 v3 idles at very low power. Like desktops, workstations spend a lot of their time doing little, making this an important measurement.

This chart was an interesting one to generate. In 3DMark 11, we were only seeing our samples pulling 60 W from the wall. The key is that both the CPU and GPU need taxing workloads thrown at them simultaneously in order to present a worst-case power figure.

Our noise figures are less a reflection of Intel's Xeon E3 and more an indication of how Supermicro is contending with the thermal load of each platform. To measure this, we took measurements at idle and under duress using both barebones configurations and all three CPUs.

Not surprisingly, the Sandy and Ivy Bridge-based configurations fall within a margin of error. They demonstrate similar power consumption characteristics and the rest of the supporting platform doesn't change. Haswell isn't much different, either.

What we can say, however, is that all three setups operate quietly. Because there are fans involved, they aren't silent. But they're certainly not boxes you'd need to keep in a server room. Supermicro clearly designed these things to behave in an office environment.

Summed up, these are low-power and low-noise workstation processors, unlike the Xeon E5s that trade some elegance for massive performance. The simple fact is that the GPU-enabled Intel Xeon E3 chips are designed to be used desk-side. As such, they'll take up more space than some of the denser server-oriented options out there. In datacenters, the technology improvements introduced alongside Ivy Bridge and the operating state advantages that accompany Haswell should prove very valuable. For example, I pay $20/ month for each amp in my colocation facility, so saving a few watts to stay within a lower power pricing tier can save me $240 each year. There are colocation providers that charge a bit less, and a lot more than what I pay. There are also many providers that increase charges for spikes above a pre-set threshold. In those cases, the latest Xeon E3s offer a very tangible benefit that might not be as apparent in the workstation world.

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