Meet The Xeon E5620
From my review of Intel’s Core i7-980X:
“What’d really be cool for the enthusiast crowd would be a line of quad-core CPUs manufactured at 32 nm. Almost certainly scalable to even higher clock rates and armed with AES-NI, these would be high-performance, lower-power options that’d go really well with today’s less-expensive X58-based motherboards.
The potential for such a design is supported by Intel’s plans to launch quad-core 32 nm Xeon processors based on its Westmere-EP design. But the most we could get out of Intel regarding its desktop plans was ‘we’re considering all options.’ Ah well, we tried.”
Well, I give up on waiting. I’ve been poking Intel, trying to talk the company into introducing one of its 32 nm Xeons as a desktop chip. I want something faster than a Core i5-600-series chip and cheaper than a Core i7-970. Four cores are fine—just give the overclockers something that’ll run cool at 4+ GHz.
Is Xeon Where It’s At?
Meet the Xeon E5620. This processor runs at 2.4 GHz by default, and it Turbo Boosts up to 2.66 GHz. It’s a quad-core chip, but it retains all of Westmere-EP’s 12 MB shared L3 cache. Hyper-Threading is turned on, so you get up to eight threads in flight at a time, and the chip’s QPI operates at 5.86 GT/s.
Performance-wise, you can’t expect much out of a 2.4 GHz part. However, Xeons are binned notoriously generously, putting power and reliability ahead of all else. The 32 nm Xeon E5620 has a VID range of .75-1.35 V and sports a modest 80 W TDP.
The only Achilles heel this thing has is an 18x multiplier that’s locked. Oh, were it not for locked ratios, this $389 Xeon would be such a beast. Sigh.
Nevertheless, I got my hands on a pair of E5620s and shot for the moon, hoping to derive a bit of enthusiast value from a notoriously business-class processor designed for dual-socket servers and workstations. With a bit of help from Asus (not every X58 motherboard supports Xeon CPUs), I managed to build a fast, stable, gaming box that doesn’t require high-end cooling or eyebrow-raising BIOS settings.
Josh, if you have any ideas on testing, I'm all ears! We're currently working with Intel on server/workstation coverage (AMD has thus far been fairly unreceptive to seeing its Opteron processors tested).
thank you for the review but your benchmarks prove that you were GPU-bottlenecked almost all time.
Letme explain: i.e. Metro 2033 or Just Cause 2... the Xenon running at 2.4 GHz provided the same FPS as when it ran at 4 GHz. That means your GPU is the bottleneck since the increase in CPU speed therefore the increase in the number of frames sent to the GPU for processing each second does not produce any visible output increase... so the GPU has too much to process already.
I also want to point out that enabling the AA and AF in CPU tests puts additional stress on the GPU therefore bottlenecking the system even more. It should be forbidden to do so... since your goal is to thest the CPU not the GPU.
Please try (and not only you, there is more than 1 article at Tom's) so try to reconsider the testing methodology, what bottleneck means and how can you detect it and so on...
Since the 480 bottlenecked most of the gaming results are useless except for seeing how many FPS does a GF480 provide in games, resolutions and with AA/AF. But that wasn't the point of the article.
LE: missed the text under the graphs... seems you are aware of the issue. :) Still would like to see the CPU tests performed on more GPU muscle or on lower resolutions/older games. This way you'll be able to get to the real interesting part: where/when does the CPU bottleneck?
However, I'm sure everyone is aware of how sharply the price of Xeons rise above the lowest-of-the-low. I expect a Xeon capable of 4.5ghz (a good speed to aim for with a 32nm chip and good cooling), you would already be over the costs of purchasing a 970/980x/990x, especially considering how good a motherboard you would need to get - a Rampage III extreme is possibly one of the most expensive X58 boards on the market, offsetting most of the gains you'd get over a 45nm chip and a more wallet friendly board - such as the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R.