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.