Some people may say the benefits of Intel's quad-core Clovertown aren't as clear as expected, as there are several benchmarks where it cannot outperform the dual-core Xeon 5200 Woodcrest. However, the results do not necessarily mean others might find our benchmarks impressive enough to justify purchasing a quad-core server or workstation today.
Intel did a great job of exploiting existing technology to offer a more powerful product. The energy requirements of the new quad cores certainly are somewhat higher under load, but the additional power drawn in idle mode is small and thus very much acceptable. Customers of the Xeon 5300 series will receive two physical dual-core chips in a single-processor package, 2x 4 MB L2 cache and the clearly best Xeon server/workstation processor product available today.
So, if you had to buy dual-processor servers/workstations now, should you get quad-core machines? Our answer to this question is yes if you will experience a benefit for your business by shortening processing times for your demanding workloads. You will need the latest software to fully exploit thread optimizations, and you'll have to be ready to spend the extra money for quad-core power supplies. You also can't be stingy when it comes to selecting components.
For everyone else we strongly recommend staying the course with dual-core machines for the time being for the following reasons:
- While workstation workloads vary a lot, typical server systems run at a maximum average system load of 20-30% most of the day. Quad-core processors would not have any measurable impact at this point.
- Almost all currently available Xeon systems that are based on the 5000 chipset are easily upgradeable with a quad core processor. You could consider a processor upgrade later, and you might even get faster processor versions for less money.
- AMD is working on its own quad-core offering, which is expected to hit the market in spring next year. With dedicated L2 caches per core and a unified L3 cache, it might easily become the more powerful product.