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Platform Support: Three Old Chipsets, C216, And Memory Compatibility

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

As with Intel’s Ivy Bridge-based Core processors, the newest Xeon E3s are compatible with previous-generation motherboards, so long as vendors update their firmware to support them. Granted, upgrades are far less common in the server and workstation space. Technically, though, the C202, C204, and C206 chipsets work fine.

There is new core logic to complement Ivy Bridge-based Xeon E3s, though—C216.

You might recognize its Panther Point code name from Intel’s 7-series desktop chipsets, and its features largely from Z77. But C216 adds vPro and AMT 8.0 support, which are necessary for the remote management capabilities not available from Intel’s enthusiast-oriented offerings.


C216 (Workstation)
C206 (Workstation / Server)
C204 (Server)
C202 (Server)
vPro / AMT 8.0
X
X


Rapid Storage Technology
X
X
X
X
Smart Response Technology
X



Integrated Graphics
X
X


Supported Displays
Three
Two


HD Audio Support
X
X


Node Manager Support


X

USB 3.0 Ports
Four



USB 2.0 Ports
10
14
12
12
PCI Express 2.0 Lanes
Eight
EightEightEight
SATA 6Gb/s
Two
Two Two
SATA 3Gb/s
Four
FourFourSix


Otherwise, C216 facilitates DisplayPort 1.1 support, four USB 3.0 ports, HD Audio, a pair of SATA 6Gb/s ports (complementing four 3 Gb/s connectors), eight second-gen PCIe 2.0 lanes, and an integrated gigabit Ethernet MAC, just like Z77.

Like C206 before it, C216 is intended as a workstation-oriented chipset. It supports the Ivy Bridge architecture’s three display outputs on boards equipped with the right connectors. It has the audio and I/O functionality you’d expect to use on a desktop, but not a server. And it even adds Smart Response Technology to the company’s business portfolio, facilitating SSD-based caching for faster boot-up and application launching.

Memory Compatibility

The trickiest part of setting up our Xeon E3-1280 v2 and Intel S1200BTL motherboard was finding a memory kit that’d work. Like the desktop Core processors, these E3s support unbuffered modules-only. So, the 100 GB+ of registered modules we have on-hand don’t work.

Constrained to desktop-oriented kits, it quickly became clear that you want to pay close attention to Intel’s supported memory list prior to picking the pieces for a new server or workstation. We eventually tracked down four 2 GB modules based on Micron ICs, but not before exhausting four or five other kits from Kingston, G.Skill, and Crucial.

Platform
DIMM Configuration
Xeon E3-1200 v2 Family
Intel C202 and C204 Chipsets
Unbuffered, Non-ECC
Not Supported
Unbuffered, ECC
Supported
Unbuffered, Non-ECC/ECC Mix
Not Supported
Intel C216 and C206 Chipsets
Unbuffered, Non-ECCSupported (Client OS)
Not Supported (Server OS)
Unbuffered, ECCSupported
Unbuffered, Non-ECC/ECC MixNot Supported
Intel 7-Series Desktop Chipsets
Unbuffered, Non-ECCNot Supported
Unbuffered, ECCNot Supported
Unbuffered, Non-ECC/ECC MixNot Supported


The good news is that the E3’s memory controller is fairly flexible. It’s able to accommodate up to 32 GB in four slots, operating as fast as 1600 MT/s even with two DIMMS per channel. And although the C206 and C216 chipsets do support non-ECC mode, Intel’s configuration matrix clearly encourages you to stick with ECC-capable RAM.

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    tomfreak , August 15, 2012 4:32 AM
    Quote:
    Ivy Bridge Goes Professional


    Need Ivy Bridge Goes budget.

    Still Waiting this.... i3, Pentium G
Other Comments
  • -8 Hide
    aqualipt , August 15, 2012 4:21 AM
    Meeeh, Ivy bridge is a disappointment for the hardcore PC users, although is great for mobile users.
  • 13 Hide
    tomfreak , August 15, 2012 4:32 AM
    Quote:
    Ivy Bridge Goes Professional


    Need Ivy Bridge Goes budget.

    Still Waiting this.... i3, Pentium G
  • -1 Hide
    bit_user , August 15, 2012 5:02 AM
    Skip.

    I went with a Sandybridge E5-1620 + discrete graphics. Twice the memory bandwidth. Twice the PCIe lanes. Comparable price. And the raw performance of the cores is only a couple % slower. A good tradeoff for GPU compute.
  • 3 Hide
    mousseng , August 15, 2012 7:03 AM
    Okay, I'll take your word for it that a $600+ Xeon can be better value in certain scenarios than an i7. But how exactly is it better value than the ~$230 E3-1230v2, which (as far as I can tell) is exactly the same, only clocked a few hundred MHz lower? Is the need to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the server-class CPUs so great that Intel can demand a $400 price hike for 300MHz?
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 15, 2012 7:14 AM
    The 3Ds Max test doesn't make any sense unless you mention which renderer you're using (Mental Ray? Vray? Scanline?). Also it would be nice if you compared against desktop processors to see if it's worth splashing out on the Xeons
  • 2 Hide
    PreferLinux , August 15, 2012 7:55 AM
    Skeletor1The 3Ds Max test doesn't make any sense unless you mention which renderer you're using (Mental Ray? Vray? Scanline?). Also it would be nice if you compared against desktop processors to see if it's worth splashing out on the Xeons

    You don't buy Xeons for performance, you buy them for reliability. The performance for clock speed is exactly the same.
  • 0 Hide
    PreferLinux , August 15, 2012 7:57 AM
    moussengOkay, I'll take your word for it that a $600+ Xeon can be better value in certain scenarios than an i7. But how exactly is it better value than the ~$230 E3-1230v2, which (as far as I can tell) is exactly the same, only clocked a few hundred MHz lower? Is the need to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the server-class CPUs so great that Intel can demand a $400 price hike for 300MHz?

    If you need the single-threaded performance, you need it. You can't get that performance by combining multiple systems. In servers or render farms, you can just add a few more machines to make up for the lesser performance, because they are dealing with tasks that are extremely well threaded – so you don't buy the fastest option, you buy the best value option. But in some cases, the single threaded performance is more important (certain workstation tasks) or you are limited to one system (many workstation tasks), so the performance matters more than value until the performance stops making a significant difference.

    And I wouldn't say that it is better value, rather I'd say that it is necessary for the extra reliability.
  • 3 Hide
    mandrilux , August 15, 2012 8:09 AM
    Nice review, but i'd like to view a comparasion between E3-1245v2 or E3-1275v2 versus I7-3770 or I7-3770K over a motherboard with chipset Z77 like Asrock. Because the E3 is cheaper than I7 and supports same socket.
    Thanks.
  • -3 Hide
    mandrilux , August 15, 2012 8:10 AM
    Nice review, but i'd like to view a comparasion between E3-1245v2 or E3-1275v2 versus I7-3770 or I7-3770K over a motherboard with chipset Z77 like Asrock. Because the E3 is cheaper than I7 and supports same socket.
    Thanks.
  • 1 Hide
    ekho , August 15, 2012 8:59 AM
    Intel doesn't compete hard these days.
    It does whatever it wants.
    AMD or ARM-BASED are not serious competitors at least for about next 2 years I guess.
  • 0 Hide
    silverblue , August 15, 2012 12:17 PM
    ARM doesn't feature in the workstation space, whereas AMD's Vishera/Delhi, whilst not perfect, could still be a good CPU - its performance gains over Zambezi/Valencia eclipse Ivy's over Sandy. Still, it'll only be aggressive pricing from AMD that really makes them stand out this year against the i7s.

    I'm liking the v2 moniker; instead of inventing new codes, is it so hard to just attach a suffix like a version number of an a/b/c etc.? That's enough to convince people that it's comparable to an older model in speed, socket type etc. but the version number will denote improved performance.
  • 3 Hide
    A Bad Day , August 15, 2012 12:27 PM
    Quote:
    2 = LGA 1155
    4 = LGA 1356
    6 = LGA 2011
    8 = LGA 1567


    Intel: Compatibility? Standards? Screw that.
  • 0 Hide
    A Bad Day , August 15, 2012 12:35 PM
    EDIT: I wonder what was Intel's reasoning for four different socket under the same CPU brand?
  • 1 Hide
    jaquith , August 15, 2012 12:36 PM
    Nice review Chris and thanks! :) 

    Translation to Real World - One thing that has often disturbed me is the duration of many of these benches, my experience is that they often either aren't relevant or worst aren't a good measure to real world jobs which often last for HOURS not 1~2 minutes. For comparison sake and perhaps scaling it would be nice to have a 'Part 2' with E5's and UP/DP/MP.

    It took me a half cup of coffee to figure out why you choose the E3-1290, I got it once I realized the clocks.

    Using Stock clocks the Ivy Bridge is a good step in the right direction, but other than it's Litho it's hard for me still to consider it a 'Tock'. I'm hoping the Haswell will correct some of the IB shortcomings.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 15, 2012 1:36 PM
    This is a server chip. Where are the IO and database tests? You know, server tasks.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 15, 2012 1:49 PM
    Would have loved to see the Xeon v2 coupled with a Z77 chipset board, just to see if there is any performance degradation compared to the C-series chipsets. AsRock, Gigabyte, MSI all support the Xeon V2s on their H77 and Z77 boards.
  • 0 Hide
    mousseng , August 15, 2012 6:07 PM
    Quote:
    If you need the single-threaded performance, you need it. ... But in some cases, the single threaded performance is more important (certain workstation tasks) or you are limited to one system (many workstation tasks), so the performance matters more than value until the performance stops making a significant difference.

    And I wouldn't say that it is better value, rather I'd say that it is necessary for the extra reliability.

    Okay, so basically it is that thing I said (the need for performance being that great). And yeah, I worded the whole 'value' bit pretty poorly, but you seem to have caught on to what I was getting at. Thanks!

    Being a consumer with no knowledge of the enterprise/server sector of hardware, it's a bit difficult to see how something so seemingly small can be worth so much, but I often forget that businesses have a lot more money to spend than individuals like myself.
  • -2 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , August 15, 2012 6:58 PM
    arent the IvyBrisge-EP supposed to ne launching in Q3 2013?
  • -1 Hide
    jaquith , August 15, 2012 8:08 PM
    mayankleoboy1arent the Ivy Bridge-EP supposed to ne launching in Q3 2013?

    It depends, supposedly Q2 2013 but if the Haswell makes the Ivy Bridge-EP superfluous then it's doubtful it will ever be produced.

    If you can stomach guesses and utter conjecture then here's an interesting post with external links in an effort to prove or disprove - http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2259752
  • -3 Hide
    iamtheking123 , August 16, 2012 4:15 AM
    bit_userSkip.I went with a Sandybridge E5-1620 + discrete graphics. Twice the memory bandwidth. Twice the PCIe lanes. Comparable price. And the raw performance of the cores is only a couple % slower. A good tradeoff for GPU compute.

    E5 is the full server version of Sandy Bridge. The equivalent won't be released for Ivy Bridge until next year, so the comparison isn't valid. This is just some re-badged client Ivy Bridge parts with minor enhancements.

    FYI you wasted money if you bought E5 for home use. Overclockability, which Xeons don't have, is more important that memory bandwidth or pci-e lanes.
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