Intel Xeon E5-2600: Doing Damage With Two Eight-Core CPUs

Intel C600 Chipset Family

Thus far, our only experience with Intel’s platform controller hub code-named Patsburg is X79 Express. However, the same piece of silicon is also used as a foundation for the C600 chipset family.

We’ve long known that X79 didn’t expose all of the core logic’s integrated functionality. It comes close, but there’s an entire Storage Controller Unit that goes unused. Actually, that’s not entirely true. We recently saw ECS’ X79R-AX enable four SAS ports in Seven $260-$320 X79 Express Motherboards, Reviewed.

The PCH that ECS employs corresponds to the –B variant of C600. Otherwise identical to X79 (including the same 14 USB 2.0 ports, an integrated gigabit Ethernet MAC, eight lanes of second-gen PCIe, and HD Audio), the –B model officially adds four 3 Gb/s SAS ports to the four 3 Gb and two 6 Gb/s SATA connectors. Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology enterprise driver facilitates RAID 0, 1, 10, and, with the addition of a BIOS update, RAID 5 support with hardware-based XOR across the SATA ports. SAS is limited to RAID 0, 1, and 10, though you can add an upgrade ROM to get RAID 5 as well.

Intel C600 Chipset

-A
-B
-D
-T
PCH-Based SATA 3Gb/s Ports
4
4
4
4
PCH-Based SATA 6Gb/s Ports
2
2
2
2
SCU-Based Ports
4 x SATA
4 x SAS
8 x SAS
8 x SAS
RSTe SATA RAID Support
RAID 0/1/10/5
RAID 0/1/10/5RAID 0/1/10/5RAID 0/1/10/5
RSTe SAS RAID Support
No
RAID 0/1/10
RAID 0/1/10RAID 0/1/10
RST3 SAS RAID 5 Support
No
No
No
 Yes
Silicon-Based RAID 5 XOR
Yes
YesYesYes
PCI Express 3.0 x4 Uplink
No
No
Yes
yes


Stepping up to the –D SKU doubles SAS connectivity to eight ports. Add that to the PCH’s native SATA and you end up with two 6 Gb/s ports and 12 3 Gb/s ports. Now, consider that C600 connects to one Xeon E5 processor via DMI 2.0—a four-lane PCIe 2.0-like link with 20 Gb/s of bidirectional throughput. That's a bottleneck just waiting to happen. So, Intel connects the PCH's SCU directly to four PCIe lanes hijacked from one of the processors, alleviating traffic from the storage controller.

The flagship –T version is functionally identical (including the eight SAS ports and four-lane uplink), only it includes RAID 5 support for the SATA and SAS ports, too. It’s not clear how much of a premium stepping up through the C600 hierarchy adds to Xeon E5-ready motherboards. However, if you were planning on buying an add-in HBA or RAID controller anyway, the option to get much of that functionality on-board is certainly convenient.

If you don’t need any of that fancy stuff, there’s a baseline –A model with four SATA 3Gb/s ports and six SATA 6Gb/s ports, four of which are tied to the SCU. It still supports RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5, and it includes hardware-based XOR, too. There’s just no SAS connectivity.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
80 comments
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • willard
    dalethepcmanNo gaming benchmarks? I know this is a high workstation / mid server build, but you know some of the boutiques will make a gaming rig out of any platform. Just out of curiosity, I would have liked to see 2x7970 or 2x580 and a few gaming benchmarks thrown in.

    I'd be really surprised to see these in gaming machines, even in the high end boutiques. That's a $2k processor they reviewed, and basically all it offers over the $1k SB-E chip (for gamers) is an extra pair of cores, which games can't make use of.
    19
  • willard
    esreverwhy aren't AMD cpus tested too? I wouldn't mind seeing how 2x interlagos stacks up.

    Anandtech benched those next to the new Xeons. Went about as well as Bulldozer vs. Sandy Bridge.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5553/the-xeon-e52600-dual-sandybridge-for-servers/6
    18
  • esrever
    why aren't AMD cpus tested too? I wouldn't mind seeing how 2x interlagos stacks up.
    14
  • Other Comments
  • CaedenV
    My brain cannot comprehend what CS5 would look like with this combined with a 1TB R4 drive, and the GTX680 version of the Quatro would look like... and I am sure my wallet cannot!

    Great article! I was not expecting my mind to be blown away today, and it was :)
    8
  • dalethepcman
    No gaming benchmarks? I know this is a high workstation / mid server build, but you know some of the boutiques will make a gaming rig out of any platform. Just out of curiosity, I would have liked to see 2x7970 or 2x580 and a few gaming benchmarks thrown in. :)
    -22
  • willard
    dalethepcmanNo gaming benchmarks? I know this is a high workstation / mid server build, but you know some of the boutiques will make a gaming rig out of any platform. Just out of curiosity, I would have liked to see 2x7970 or 2x580 and a few gaming benchmarks thrown in.

    I'd be really surprised to see these in gaming machines, even in the high end boutiques. That's a $2k processor they reviewed, and basically all it offers over the $1k SB-E chip (for gamers) is an extra pair of cores, which games can't make use of.
    19
  • nforce4max
    I must say DROOL :O
    9
  • esrever
    why aren't AMD cpus tested too? I wouldn't mind seeing how 2x interlagos stacks up.
    14
  • reclusiveorc
    I wonder how fast TempEncode would chew thru transcoding avi/wmv files to mp3/mp4
    0
  • willard
    esreverwhy aren't AMD cpus tested too? I wouldn't mind seeing how 2x interlagos stacks up.

    Anandtech benched those next to the new Xeons. Went about as well as Bulldozer vs. Sandy Bridge.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5553/the-xeon-e52600-dual-sandybridge-for-servers/6
    18
  • cangelini
    esreverwhy aren't AMD cpus tested too? I wouldn't mind seeing how 2x interlagos stacks up.

    Mentioned on the test page--I've invited them to send hardware and they haven't moved on it yet.
    14
  • willard
    cangeliniMentioned on the test page--I've invited them to send hardware and they haven't moved on it yet.

    I would guess that's because Interlagos is garbage compared to the new Xeons and they know it. I don't think they're terribly eager for the front page of Tom's Hardware to show the low end Xeon's beating the best Interlagos has to offer.
    10
  • Onus
    What, or who, was the target? Are there military applications for this weapon?

    Sorry, vote me down all you like, but the title was just silly.
    -17
  • cangelini
    willardI would guess that's because Interlagos is garbage compared to the new Xeons and they know it. I don't think they're terribly eager for the front page of Tom's Hardware to show the low end Xeon's beating the best Interlagos has to offer.

    Not really my place to speculate--only to point out that I similarly wanted to see AMD hardware included and explain why it isn't there :)
    9
  • willard
    jtt283What, or who, was the target? Are there military applications for this weapon?Sorry, vote me down all you like, but the title was just silly.

    No, the title is a fairly common phrase in American English.

    "Now that I've got X, I can really do some damage" would probably be the way I hear it used most often.
    5
  • willard
    cangeliniNot really my place to speculate--only to point out that I similarly wanted to see AMD hardware included and explain why it isn't there

    Yeah, I understand that you're in a sensitive position. But being a lowly commenter, I'm free to speculate all I want!

    Muahahahaha!
    6
  • cangelini
    willardYeah, I understand that you're in a sensitive position. But being a lowly commenter, I'm free to speculate all I want!Muahahahaha!

    Precisely ;-)
    6
  • wiyosaya
    Interesting results.

    In my opinion, the SolidWorks test is also one of those not representative of typical SolidWorks tasks. PhotoView only renders realistic images of a SolidWorks model. Personally, I think the Specviewperf SolidWorks test would be significantly more representative of average SolidWorks use.

    Although I really hate to draw this comparison, PhotoView is more like using Power Point to organize a display of images created in Photoshop. In this comparison, most of the grunt work is done by Photoshop rather than Power Point, as is most of the grunt work done in SolidWorks then rendered in PhotoView. Performance differences revealed by the Specviewperf test are more informative, IMHO. See these.
    1
  • juan83
    great review.. i wonder myself how long we 'll have to wait to see 8 cores and 16 threads on desktop segment as a default pc.. (or less than 400 dolars)

    we have to wait to long for that..
    0
  • Anonymous
    I would love one of those with a pair of FireGL cards and a mix of SCSI and SSD drives. I'm sure a dual core version of all of that will run me close to $8K though. Consider though how much Sun SPARC stations and SGI Workstations costed a decade or so ago? Workstations that were not nearly as capable went 20-25k. A dual core E5-2687 with FireGL cards and SSD drives is the fastest workstation you could put together on any platform and you can do it for far less than the 25k from years ago. Absolutely crazy to think about it in those terms.
    0
  • EXT64
    I think you need to run some folding at home on that. I can't imagine what it would get in PPD, considering how well the old Intel 6 cores (Gulftown) do.
    3
  • jaquith
    Great article and thanks! 16-cores/32-threads is nice! :)

    Reading this however, all I can do is think how PO'ed I am at Intel not enabling the 7th & 8th cores on the SB-E i7-3960X and i7-3930K.
    1
  • cangelini
    jaquithGreat article and thanks! 16-cores/32-threads is nice! Reading this however, all I can do is think how PO'ed I am at Intel not enabling the 7th & 8th cores on the SB-E i7-3960X and i7-3930K.

    I'm going to drop these into X79 and compare the numbers to see how power is affected. Maybe get a little overclocking out of them, just to check ;-)
    5