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Intel Xeon E3-1280 v2 Review: Ivy Bridge Goes Professional

Xeon E3-1200 v2 Is A Power Story, Not A Performance One

Based on our performance results, it’s clear that Intel’s Xeon E3-1280 v2 is a marginally-faster chip than its predecessors, the Xeon E3-1290 and -1275. The -1280 v2 operates at the same 3.6 GHz as the -1290, and stretches up to the same 4 GHz Turbo Boost limit. Both chips are quad-core parts with 8 MB of shared L3 cache and no processor graphics functionality.

In fact, it’s easier to list off the differences between them than their similarities.

There’s the Ivy Bridge architecture, most notably. The slight improvements Intel made to it confer, on average, a 3.8% speed-up at a given clock rate.

By simultaneously shifting to a 22 nm manufacturing process, Intel reduces the Xeon E3-1280 v2’s TDP by almost 30% compared to the 95 W Xeon E3-1290. In practice, across our benchmark suite, the -1280 v2 helped knock back power consumption by almost 7%. So, that’s almost 4% more performance at almost 7% less average platform power.

Now, compare where those two chips are selling. At launch, the Xeon E3-1290 was an $885 processor. The tray price on the -1280 v2 is $612—70% of the previous-generation flagship’s cost.

Upgrades are rare in the server and workstation space, so it’s highly unlikely that anyone would take a Xeon E3-1280 v2 and drop it into an existing LGA 1155-based box with an older CPU in it. However, system builders have to be happy about the prospect of a cheaper, faster, more power-efficient chip that works with existing motherboards.

I wasn’t particularly excited about Ivy Bridge in the desktop space. Meager performance improvements and disappointing overclocking made it impossible to recommend a new chip to anyone who purchased a new platform based on our endorsement of Intel’s Sandy Bridge design. But Xeon E3 targets a different customer. And the company’s entry-level server/workstation platform is more diverse than its desktop line-up based on the same design.

More than likely, integrators will shift over to second-gen Xeon E3s fairly transparently; you won’t have to make a conscious decision to seek out one of the new CPUs. But it’s good to know, once the performance data is collected and the power information compiled, that the newest LGA 1155-based Xeon chips do everything better than the models they replace, and often for a lot less money.

  • aqualipt
    Meeeh, Ivy bridge is a disappointment for the hardcore PC users, although is great for mobile users.
    Reply
  • tomfreak
    Ivy Bridge Goes Professional


    Need Ivy Bridge Goes budget.

    Still Waiting this.... i3, Pentium G
    Reply
  • bit_user
    Skip.

    I went with a Sandybridge E5-1620 + discrete graphics. Twice the memory bandwidth. Twice the PCIe lanes. Comparable price. And the raw performance of the cores is only a couple % slower. A good tradeoff for GPU compute.
    Reply
  • mousseng
    Okay, I'll take your word for it that a $600+ Xeon can be better value in certain scenarios than an i7. But how exactly is it better value than the ~$230 E3-1230v2, which (as far as I can tell) is exactly the same, only clocked a few hundred MHz lower? Is the need to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the server-class CPUs so great that Intel can demand a $400 price hike for 300MHz?
    Reply
  • The 3Ds Max test doesn't make any sense unless you mention which renderer you're using (Mental Ray? Vray? Scanline?). Also it would be nice if you compared against desktop processors to see if it's worth splashing out on the Xeons
    Reply
  • PreferLinux
    Skeletor1The 3Ds Max test doesn't make any sense unless you mention which renderer you're using (Mental Ray? Vray? Scanline?). Also it would be nice if you compared against desktop processors to see if it's worth splashing out on the XeonsYou don't buy Xeons for performance, you buy them for reliability. The performance for clock speed is exactly the same.
    Reply
  • PreferLinux
    moussengOkay, I'll take your word for it that a $600+ Xeon can be better value in certain scenarios than an i7. But how exactly is it better value than the ~$230 E3-1230v2, which (as far as I can tell) is exactly the same, only clocked a few hundred MHz lower? Is the need to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the server-class CPUs so great that Intel can demand a $400 price hike for 300MHz?If you need the single-threaded performance, you need it. You can't get that performance by combining multiple systems. In servers or render farms, you can just add a few more machines to make up for the lesser performance, because they are dealing with tasks that are extremely well threaded – so you don't buy the fastest option, you buy the best value option. But in some cases, the single threaded performance is more important (certain workstation tasks) or you are limited to one system (many workstation tasks), so the performance matters more than value until the performance stops making a significant difference.

    And I wouldn't say that it is better value, rather I'd say that it is necessary for the extra reliability.
    Reply
  • mandrilux
    Nice review, but i'd like to view a comparasion between E3-1245v2 or E3-1275v2 versus I7-3770 or I7-3770K over a motherboard with chipset Z77 like Asrock. Because the E3 is cheaper than I7 and supports same socket.
    Thanks.
    Reply
  • mandrilux
    Nice review, but i'd like to view a comparasion between E3-1245v2 or E3-1275v2 versus I7-3770 or I7-3770K over a motherboard with chipset Z77 like Asrock. Because the E3 is cheaper than I7 and supports same socket.
    Thanks.
    Reply
  • ekho
    Intel doesn't compete hard these days.
    It does whatever it wants.
    AMD or ARM-BASED are not serious competitors at least for about next 2 years I guess.
    Reply