Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Benchmark Results: Power Consumption And Efficiency

Intel Xeon 5600-Series: Can Your PC Use 24 Processors?
By

Normally, we’d run Prime95 to determine maximum load power consumption and then PCMark Vantage to chart out consumption over time. However, a max figure isn’t really relevant here, and Vantage simply won’t run on our multi-socket configs. SYSmark Preview 2007 is populated by old, outdated software that wouldn't exploit threading in a way we could tie into a workstation story. So, I turned to LightWave 3D 9.6. The frame rendering process taxes available CPU cores and takes long enough for us to measure average power use.

The results are pretty gosh-darned telling. Not surprisingly, the lowest-power solution is a single Core i7-980X. However, the one CPU also takes the longest to finish frame eight of our rendering workload.

Two Xeon W5580s (130 W TDP processors) are actually the most power-hungry—and they don’t even finish the fastest. That honor goes to a couple of Xeon X5680s (also 130 W CPUs).

Our Extech logger sampled power every two seconds, making it easy to gauge the exact time for frame eight to render completely. We turn that time, in seconds, into its fraction of an hour, and then multiply by the average power use during the run.

It turns out that, while a single Core i7-980X is a great way to improve the efficiency of your workstation versus a pair of quad-core CPUs like the Xeon W5580s (despite the fact that the two Xeons are faster), a couple of Xeon X5680s turn that conclusion topsy-turvy. They get our workload finished fast enough that the elevated power is more than compensated for by increased performance.

Of course, this applies exclusively to usage models that are threaded. Once you hit an app that isn’t threaded, or less-optimally threaded, you won’t see the improved performance needed to justify higher power use. Instead, you’ll need to rely on Intel’s power gating to shut down unused pieces of each Xeon processor to prevent idle power use from skewing the overall efficiency picture.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 62 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 17 Hide
    one-shot , July 26, 2010 6:16 AM
    Or 24 Logical cores, not really Processors.
  • 13 Hide
    wh3resmycar , July 26, 2010 7:03 AM
    Quote:
    So many cpu's in task manager...do all but 1 go unused running a single threaded app? shame intel had to go this route with more cores instead of making single core with hyper-threading work faster. you should really only need 2 logical cpu's and hyper threading accomplishes it with 1.


    i have a feeling you dont understand what the word "workstation" means.
  • 13 Hide
    Tamz_msc , July 26, 2010 6:29 AM
    I was expecting an even better performance from these CPUs.The performance is still limited by the software you use.
Other Comments
  • 17 Hide
    one-shot , July 26, 2010 6:16 AM
    Or 24 Logical cores, not really Processors.
  • 12 Hide
    Zerk , July 26, 2010 6:20 AM
    24 threads, 12 cores.

    A+ Excellent Review.
  • 11 Hide
    enzo matrix , July 26, 2010 6:20 AM
    one-shotOr 24 Logical CPUs, not really Processors.

    Misleading title. I was excited because I assumed intel had finally come out with 12-core server CPUs.
  • 13 Hide
    Tamz_msc , July 26, 2010 6:29 AM
    I was expecting an even better performance from these CPUs.The performance is still limited by the software you use.
  • 0 Hide
    shin0bi272 , July 26, 2010 6:35 AM
    Enzo MatrixMisleading title. I was excited because I assumed intel had finally come out with 12-core server CPUs.

    they could have gone 4x 6 core cpus without HT too.
  • -3 Hide
    cangelini , July 26, 2010 6:45 AM
    Enzo MatrixMisleading title. I was excited because I assumed intel had finally come out with 12-core server CPUs.


    The Xeon 5600-series tops out with 6 cores and 12 threads, yielding 24 logical processors between two sockets. =)
  • 13 Hide
    wh3resmycar , July 26, 2010 7:03 AM
    Quote:
    So many cpu's in task manager...do all but 1 go unused running a single threaded app? shame intel had to go this route with more cores instead of making single core with hyper-threading work faster. you should really only need 2 logical cpu's and hyper threading accomplishes it with 1.


    i have a feeling you dont understand what the word "workstation" means.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , July 26, 2010 7:39 AM
    Hyper threading was kind of cool back in the P4 days, but now I don't see the point. Virtually nothing that >people actually use< has any benefit to see from it.. It just makes for cool screenshots imo..

    I guess what this review says is that, if you want performance for stuff you do at home you should pretty much just get a Nehalem i7 6c with some fast ram. The xeons seems to be behind on everything multimedia, much as expected.
  • 7 Hide
    Otus , July 26, 2010 8:06 AM
    cangeliniThe Xeon 5600-series tops out with 6 cores and 12 threads, yielding 24 logical processors between two sockets. =)

    You should have written "logical processors" or "logical cores" and no one would have argued.
    mheagerNot true. Hyper threading makes it so if one app gets stuck in an endless loop it doesn't suck up all the cpu and freeze the computer.

    The OS can do that even on a single core with no HT. Not to mention the case with many physical cores which non-HT CPUs have nowadays.
  • -2 Hide
    kokin , July 26, 2010 8:08 AM
    mheagerNot true. Hyper threading makes it so if one app gets stuck in an endless loop it doesn't suck up all the cpu and freeze the computer.

    But why should it get stuck in an endless loop with all that computing power?
  • 3 Hide
    mindbreaker , July 26, 2010 9:12 AM
    Since when do the chip makers get to choose not to have their chips tested? Is this a news magazine or isn't it? Test those G34 socket AMD Opterons!

    And guys; chess is still one of the best applications to see the potential of a chip with all threads pegged. Crafty has a benchmark if the Fritz one is not using all the threads. Or you can do things more hands on; just see how much time it requires to get StockFish 1.8 to reach depth 30 in the start position. It is free and the #2 engine in the world.
  • 3 Hide
    jeffunit , July 26, 2010 9:30 AM
    Nice picture of a memory module. Unfortunately, it isn't a picture of the kingston KVR1333D3E9SK3/3G which has ECC, and hence 9 memory chips per side.
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , July 26, 2010 9:55 AM
    jeffunitNice picture of a memory module. Unfortunately, it isn't a picture of the kingston KVR1333D3E9SK3/3G which has ECC, and hence 9 memory chips per side.


    Blargh. That's what I get for relying on Kingston's stock photography. Photo of one of my actual modules is in there now.
  • 2 Hide
    cangelini , July 26, 2010 9:56 AM
    mindbreakerSince when do the chip makers get to choose not to have their chips tested? Is this a news magazine or isn't it? Test those G34 socket AMD Opterons! And guys; chess is still one of the best applications to see the potential of a chip with all threads pegged. Crafty has a benchmark if the Fritz one is not using all the threads. Or you can do things more hands on; just see how much time it requires to get StockFish 1.8 to reach depth 30 in the start position. It is free and the #2 engine in the world.


    Hoping to get AMD in on the next round, for sure!
  • 0 Hide
    Reynod , July 26, 2010 9:59 AM
    Enjoyed reading this ... thanks Chris.
  • 0 Hide
    amdfangirl , July 26, 2010 11:03 AM
    It's interesting to see it unable to beat the i7-980X at times.

    Just shows not everything is ready for operation more cores.
  • 0 Hide
    Marco925 , July 26, 2010 1:15 PM
    Quote:
    Can Your PC Use 24 Processors?


    I'm still on dual core... :(  so no.
  • -6 Hide
    wotan31 , July 26, 2010 1:34 PM
    I'll bet Windows won't work with this many processors. The crap OS will probably BSOD. Even it boots, Windows is a virtual retard when it comes to thread management - it scales VERY poorly once you go above 4 cpu's. Linux or OSX on the other hand, would definitely benefit from such technology, since both of those have advanced thread management.
  • -5 Hide
    wotan31 , July 26, 2010 1:35 PM
    Tamz_mscI was expecting an even better performance from these CPUs.The performance is still limited by the software you use.

    Correct... if the software you use is Windows. Use a real OS that's based on UNIX and can actually scale properly when you give it serious hardware. Windows is a tinker toy in comparison.
  • 1 Hide
    scook9 , July 26, 2010 1:51 PM
    Pretty epic review :) 
Display more comments