Xeon E5-2600 V2: The Real Innovation Happens Up Top
Based on Intel’s exhaustive roadmap, it’s pretty clear how this year and next year are going to go down.
Ivy Bridge-E is coming up next. We know from Intel Core i7-4960X Preview: Ivy Bridge-E, Benchmarked that there’s not a whole lot to excite enthusiasts. Incremental performance gains and impressive efficiency won’t justify upgrading, and the X79 platform isn’t going to get anyone excited about building a new box.
Then we’re going to start seeing Haswell-based Core i3 and Pentium processors, followed by soldered-down Bay Trail-D Pentiums in Q4’13. That’ll be exciting, if only because the mainstream stack will consist of Haswell and Silvermont (I’m personally really looking forward to that architecture).
Next year we’ll get a “Haswell refresh,” along with the 9-series chipsets. And that’ll be followed by Haswell-E, which breaks processor interface compatibility with X79. If all goes according to plan, expect to see the first eight-core high-end desktop CPUs in the second half of next year.
Until then, enthusiasts have to look to the server and workstation space for evidence that Intel is still very much active beyond its aspirations to counter ARM’s momentum in the low-power space. Upcoming Ivy Bridge-EP-based Xeon E5s will operate within the same thermal envelopes as Intel’s LGA 2011-based Core i7s, but in four-, six-, eight-, 10-, and 12-core configurations. Most will drop into dual-socket platforms, though single- and quad-interface models are planned, too.
Of course we’d all love to see Intel pull out the stops and get enthusiasts excited with an eight-, 10-, or 12-core high-end desktop chip. But there’s just no business case to eat into sales of Xeon E5s.
Apple is going to have them in its next-gen Mac Pro workstations, and it’ll be interesting to see how much a 12-core Xeon E5 adds to the small cylinder’s price tag. Given a number of motherboard vendors that added Xeon E5 support to their X79 platforms, you should be able to build your own 12-core workstation running Windows. But if you thought that $1000 for an Extreme Edition CPU was nuts, just wait till you hear what a Xeon E5-2697 V2 will run you.