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Intel’s Second-Gen Xeon E3 Processor Family

Intel Xeon E3-1280 v2 Review: Ivy Bridge Goes Professional

Aside from ECC memory support and four extra PCIe lanes, the Xeon E3s are very much similar to the third-gen Core processors we introduced in Intel Core i7-3770K Review: A Small Step Up For Ivy Bridge, architecturally.

There are more Xeon E3s, though. Intel already launched 11 different models with thermal ceilings as low as 17 W and as high as 87 W.

Xeon E3
Base Clock
Max. Turbo Boost
L3 Cache
Cores / Threads
HD Graphics
No Integrated Graphics
-1290 v2
3.7 GHz
4.1 GHz
8 MB
4 / 8
1600 / 1333
87 W
-1280 v2
3.6 GHz
4 GHz
8 MB4 / 8None1600 / 133369 W
-1270 v2
3.5 GHz
3.9 GHz
8 MB4 / 8None1600 / 133369 W
-1240 v2
3.4 GHz
3.8 GHz
8 MB4 / 8None1600 / 133369 W
-1230 v2
3.3 GHz
3.7 GHz
8 MB4 / 8None1600 / 133369 W
-1220 v2
3.1 GHz
3.5 GHz
8 MB4 / 4
None1600 / 133369 W
-1220L v2
2.3 GHz
3.5 GHz
3 MB
2 / 4
None1600 / 133317 W
Integrated Graphics
-1275 v2
3.5 GHz
3.9 GHz
8 MB4 / 8P4000
1600 / 133377 W
-1265L v2
2.5 GHz
3.5 GHz
8 MB4 / 82000
1600 / 133345 W
-1245 v2
3.4 GHz
3.8 GHz
8 MB4 / 8P4000
1600 / 133377 W
-1225 v2
3.2 GHz
3.6 GHz
6 MB
4 / 4
1600 / 133377 W

Three SKUs are rated at 77 W. Like the desktop chips bearing similar TDPs, these feature processor-based graphics (referred to as HD Graphics P4000). A fourth chip bears a lower 45 W ceiling, but runs at more conservative clock rates and sports HD Graphics 2000 instead.

The remaining seven Xeon E3s ship without graphics enabled, allowing Intel to scale back its thermal limits. Five of the products are rated at 69 W. A sixth gives up two of its cores to slip in at 17 W, and the seventh goes all-out with a 3.7 GHz base frequency, nudging power up to 87 W for the sake of performance.

What’s In A Name?

Given so many models differentiated in so many ways, it’s worth revisiting Intel’s nomenclature. Of course, we’re glad to see it using the same structure as last year. From my look at the Xeon E5s a few months back:

First, you have the brand, Xeon. Easy enough. Then there’s the product line: E3, E5, or E7. Again, we get the general sense that E3 is intended for entry-level single-socket workstations and servers, while E5 now spans a broader range from single- to quad-socket systems. The E7s cover two-, four-, and eight-socket servers.

The first digit you encounter specifies wayness, or the maximum number of CPUs in a node (that’s 1, 2, 4, or 8).

The second is indicative of socket type. Somewhat confusingly, Intel plans to use the numbers 2, 4, 6, and 8 moving forward. However, the actual interface corresponding to each digit may change. At least for 2012, we end up with the following associations:

2 = LGA 1155
4 = LGA 1356
6 = LGA 2011
8 = LGA 1567

The last two numbers are SKU designators like 10, 20, 30, and so on. Although there’s no formula to tell you why one chip might be a 50 and another a 70, Intel says it uses a combination of core count, cache size, clock rate, QPI data rates, and so on to classify each chip.

Certain models might also receive a single-letter suffix. For example, a model ending in L is meant as a low-power part. The CPUs we’re testing today are flagged as workstation models with a W suffix.

Finally, in the future, Intel plans to use a version number after the model name like v2 or v3 to identify generational progression. Ivy Bridge-based CPUs will be the first to employ those.

The time has come for those first v2-branded Ivy Bridge-based models, which simply succeed the first-gen parts. Also, two of the new Xeon E3s bear an L suffix, indicating their suitability in low-power (17 and 45 W) environments. Lastly, notice that the graphics-equipped chips all have names that end in a “5”, while the others end with a “0”.

Thus, it’s easy to interpret something like Xeon E3-1240 v2, a single-socket, LGA 1155-capable CPU roughly in the line-up’s middle. The “0” at the end tells us it doesn’t include processor graphics, and the lack of a suffix indicates standard voltage, making it a 69 W offering.

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