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An SoC architected for scalability paves the way for a very diverse portfolio of processors. There are actually four distinct families of Xeon E5 CPUs, each packaged up for a slightly different purpose.
Intel’s previous naming scheme allowed very little room to distinguish a large line-up, so it was forced to revamp its nomenclature. Xeon E7s are already available, as are the entry-level Xeon E3s. Xeon E5 sits in the middle, with a fair bit of overlap on both ends. Now, from the bottom to top, we should see some degree of consistency used in assigning model numbers. Let’s break it down:
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.
Based on the aforementioned information, we know that a Xeon E5-1600 processor is designed for single-socket LGA 2011-based configurations. And would it surprise you to learn that the three available models mirror the trio of desktop Core i7-3000s we’ve already reviewed? Specification-wise, they match the Core i7-3960X, -3930K, and 3820 exactly, adding ECC memory support as a principal differentiator. The Xeons also support up to 375 GB of memory, according to Intel, along with vPro technology.
Now we’re talking about hardware you can’t already get on the desktop side, since the -2600s support two-socket arrangements. The largest family of Xeon E5s, the -2600s are 17-strong, ranging from an 80 W dual-core model to a workstation-specific eight-core 150 W flagship. In between, you’ll find four- and six-core models at 80 and 95 W. A pair of low-power SKUs even dips down to 60 W.
|Xeon E5-2690||8/16||20 MB||135 W||8 GT/s||DDR3-1600|
|Xeon E5-2680||8/16||20 MB||130 W||8 GT/s||DDR3-1600|
|Xeon E5-2670||8/16||20 MB||115 W||8 GT/s||DDR3-1600|
|Xeon E5-2665||8/16||20 MB||115 W||8 GT/s||DDR3-1600|
|Xeon E5-2660||8/16||20 MB||95 W||8 GT/s||DDR3-1600|
|Xeon E5-2650||8/16||20 MB||95 W||8 GT/s||DDR3-1600|
|Xeon E5-2640||6/12||15 MB||95 W||7.2 GT/s||DDR3-1333|
|Xeon E5-2630||6/12||15 MB||95 W||7.2 GT/s||DDR3-1333|
|Xeon E5-2620||6/12||15 MB||95 W||7.2 GT/s||DDR3-1333|
|Xeon E5-2609||4/4||10 MB||80 W||6.4 GT/s||DDR3-1066|
|Xeon E5-2603||4/4||10 MB||80 W||6.4 GT/s||DDR3-1066|
|Additional LGA 2011 SKUs|
|Xeon E5-2687W||8/16||20 MB||150 W||8 GT/s||DDR3-1600|
|Xeon E5-2667||6/12||15 MB||130 W||7.2 GT/s||DDR3-1333|
|Xeon E5-2643||4/8||10 MB||130 W||6.4 GT/s||DDR3-1066|
|Xeon E5-2637||2/4||5 MB||80 W|
|Xeon E5-2650L||8/16||20 MB||70 W||8 GT/s||DDR3-1600|
|Xeon E5-2630L||6/12||15 MB||60 W||7.2 GT/s||DDR3-1333|
We got our hands on a pair of Xeon E5-2687Ws, the aforementioned 150 W parts set aside explicitly for workstation configs. Armed with eight cores, a 3.1 GHz base clock rate (3.8 GHz at its highest Turbo Boost frequency), 20 MB of L3 cache, and 8 GT/s QPI links, this is pretty much top of the line, so long as you’re able to keep it cool.
Past-generation Xeon 5500 and 5600s were limited to dual-socket systems. So, it might seem strange that there’s an entire line of Xeon E5s built to drop into glueless quad-socket platforms. But as we already saw with the Xeon E7s, Intel doesn’t seem to be trying to segment its server CPUs based on processor count anymore. As a result, we have the Xeon E5-4600 series.
Spanning four- to eight-core models with two QPI links each, the E5-4600s are less expensive than the E7s, which employ four QPI links and up to 10 cores per CPU. On a sliding scale, Xeon E7s have an upper hand in enterprise performance, memory expandability, and RAS functionality, while the E5s rule in performance/watt and density-oriented HPC environments.
|Xeon E5-4650||8/16||20 MB||130 W||8 GT/s||DDR3-1600|
|Xeon E5-4640||8/16||20 MB||95 W||8 GT/s||DDR3-1600|
|Xeon E5-4620||8/16||16 MB||95 W||7.2 GT/s||DDR3-1333|
|Xeon E5-4610||6/12||15 MB||95 W||7.2 GT/s||DDR3-1333|
|Xeon E5-4607||6/12||12 MB||95 W||6.4 GT/s||DDR3-1066|
|Xeon E5-4603||4/8||10 MB||95W||6.4 GT/s||DDR3-1066|
|Xeon E5-4650L||8/16||20 MB||115 W||8 GT/s||DDR3-1600|
|Xeon E5-4617||6/12||15 MB||130 W||7.2 GT/s||DDR3-1600|
You’ll find eight -4600 SKUs sporting between four and eight cores, and with TDPs that range from 95 to 130 W.
All of the Xeon E5-x600 processors drop into the LGA 2011 interface with which we’re already familiar. But Intel is introducing another socket for premium 1S and entry-level 2S systems called LGA 1356. Although it’s the true successor to LGA 1366, the 1356-pin socket isn’t compatible (likely as a result of power changes and the on-die PCI Express control). Like its precursor, though, LGA 1356 processors employ three memory channels and a single QPI link connecting CPUs in a 2S configuration. They also offer fewer third-gen PCI Express lanes: 24 rather than 40.
A second new interface is less of a big deal in the server space than it would be for desktop users, since the enterprise guys don’t spend a lot of time popping new CPUs into rack-mounted machines. As a result, the Xeon E5-2400s are simply Intel’s way to get more mileage out of its architecture and bridge the gap between its single-socket E5s and the more performance-oriented E5-x600s.
|Feature||Xeon E5-2600 Family||Xeon E5-2400 Family|
|Processor Interface||LGA 2011||LGA 1356|
|Memory Channels||4 Per CPU||3 Per CPU|
|Max DIMM Slots||24||12|
|Max Memory||768 GB||384 GB|
|PCIe Lanes/Controllers||80 / 20||48 / 12|
|Thermal Targets||150, 135, 130, 115, 95, 80, 70, 60 W||95, 80, 70, 60 W|
Intel’s Core i7-3000 processors are its first desktop models to ship without any bundled cooling, leaving power users to pick their own solution (fortunately, we have you covered there with Big Air: 14 LGA 2011-Compatible Coolers For Core i7-3000, Reviewed). That was a controversial decision, since enthusiasts all use pedestal enclosures with fairly similar dimensions.
The server and workstation spaces aren’t as general, though. Some of these chips might find their way into freestanding small business boxes, while others go into narrow 1U chassis. It’s a little more understandable that you buy cooling for these Xeon E5s separately, based on your application.
Three heat sinks cover all 37 of the processors being introduced. Two of them, STS200P and STS200PNRW, are 25.5 mm-tall for rack-mounted environments. The former is a square 91.5x91.5 mm, while the latter is 70 mm wide and 106 mm long to accommodate the narrower sockets typical of HPC-oriented blades. Both are passive and rated for TDPs of up to 130 W. The third cooler, STS200C, includes a removable fan and is able to cope with thermal ceilings of up to 150 W.