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Intel Xeon E5-2600: Doing Damage With Two Eight-Core CPUs

Intel C600 Chipset Family

Thus far, our only experience with Intel’s platform controller hub code-named Patsburg is X79 Express. However, the same piece of silicon is also used as a foundation for the C600 chipset family.

We’ve long known that X79 didn’t expose all of the core logic’s integrated functionality. It comes close, but there’s an entire Storage Controller Unit that goes unused. Actually, that’s not entirely true. We recently saw ECS’ X79R-AX enable four SAS ports in Seven $260-$320 X79 Express Motherboards, Reviewed.

The PCH that ECS employs corresponds to the –B variant of C600. Otherwise identical to X79 (including the same 14 USB 2.0 ports, an integrated gigabit Ethernet MAC, eight lanes of second-gen PCIe, and HD Audio), the –B model officially adds four 3 Gb/s SAS ports to the four 3 Gb and two 6 Gb/s SATA connectors. Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology enterprise driver facilitates RAID 0, 1, 10, and, with the addition of a BIOS update, RAID 5 support with hardware-based XOR across the SATA ports. SAS is limited to RAID 0, 1, and 10, though you can add an upgrade ROM to get RAID 5 as well.

Intel C600 Chipset
-A-B-D-T
PCH-Based SATA 3Gb/s Ports4444
PCH-Based SATA 6Gb/s Ports2222
SCU-Based Ports4 x SATA4 x SAS8 x SAS8 x SAS
RSTe SATA RAID SupportRAID 0/1/10/5RAID 0/1/10/5RAID 0/1/10/5RAID 0/1/10/5
RSTe SAS RAID SupportNoRAID 0/1/10RAID 0/1/10RAID 0/1/10
RST3 SAS RAID 5 SupportNoNoNoYes
Silicon-Based RAID 5 XORYesYesYesYes
PCI Express 3.0 x4 UplinkNoNoYesyes

Stepping up to the –D SKU doubles SAS connectivity to eight ports. Add that to the PCH’s native SATA and you end up with two 6 Gb/s ports and 12 3 Gb/s ports. Now, consider that C600 connects to one Xeon E5 processor via DMI 2.0—a four-lane PCIe 2.0-like link with 20 Gb/s of bidirectional throughput. That's a bottleneck just waiting to happen. So, Intel connects the PCH's SCU directly to four PCIe lanes hijacked from one of the processors, alleviating traffic from the storage controller.

The flagship –T version is functionally identical (including the eight SAS ports and four-lane uplink), only it includes RAID 5 support for the SATA and SAS ports, too. It’s not clear how much of a premium stepping up through the C600 hierarchy adds to Xeon E5-ready motherboards. However, if you were planning on buying an add-in HBA or RAID controller anyway, the option to get much of that functionality on-board is certainly convenient.

If you don’t need any of that fancy stuff, there’s a baseline –A model with four SATA 3Gb/s ports and six SATA 6Gb/s ports, four of which are tied to the SCU. It still supports RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5, and it includes hardware-based XOR, too. There’s just no SAS connectivity.

  • CaedenV
    My brain cannot comprehend what CS5 would look like with this combined with a 1TB R4 drive, and the GTX680 version of the Quatro would look like... and I am sure my wallet cannot!

    Great article! I was not expecting my mind to be blown away today, and it was :)
    Reply
  • dalethepcman
    No gaming benchmarks? I know this is a high workstation / mid server build, but you know some of the boutiques will make a gaming rig out of any platform. Just out of curiosity, I would have liked to see 2x7970 or 2x580 and a few gaming benchmarks thrown in. :)
    Reply
  • willard
    dalethepcmanNo gaming benchmarks? I know this is a high workstation / mid server build, but you know some of the boutiques will make a gaming rig out of any platform. Just out of curiosity, I would have liked to see 2x7970 or 2x580 and a few gaming benchmarks thrown in.I'd be really surprised to see these in gaming machines, even in the high end boutiques. That's a $2k processor they reviewed, and basically all it offers over the $1k SB-E chip (for gamers) is an extra pair of cores, which games can't make use of.
    Reply
  • nforce4max
    I must say DROOL :O

    Reply
  • esrever
    why aren't AMD cpus tested too? I wouldn't mind seeing how 2x interlagos stacks up.
    Reply
  • reclusiveorc
    I wonder how fast TempEncode would chew thru transcoding avi/wmv files to mp3/mp4
    Reply
  • willard
    esreverwhy aren't AMD cpus tested too? I wouldn't mind seeing how 2x interlagos stacks up.Anandtech benched those next to the new Xeons. Went about as well as Bulldozer vs. Sandy Bridge.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5553/the-xeon-e52600-dual-sandybridge-for-servers/6
    Reply
  • cangelini
    esreverwhy aren't AMD cpus tested too? I wouldn't mind seeing how 2x interlagos stacks up.Mentioned on the test page--I've invited them to send hardware and they haven't moved on it yet.
    Reply
  • willard
    cangeliniMentioned on the test page--I've invited them to send hardware and they haven't moved on it yet.I would guess that's because Interlagos is garbage compared to the new Xeons and they know it. I don't think they're terribly eager for the front page of Tom's Hardware to show the low end Xeon's beating the best Interlagos has to offer.
    Reply
  • Onus
    What, or who, was the target? Are there military applications for this weapon?

    Sorry, vote me down all you like, but the title was just silly.
    Reply