Skip to main content

Intel Xeon 5600-Series: Can Your PC Use 24 Processors?

Benchmark Results: Power Consumption And Efficiency

Normally, we’d run Prime95 to determine maximum load power consumption and then PCMark Vantage to chart out consumption over time. However, a max figure isn’t really relevant here, and Vantage simply won’t run on our multi-socket configs. SYSmark Preview 2007 is populated by old, outdated software that wouldn't exploit threading in a way we could tie into a workstation story. So, I turned to LightWave 3D 9.6. The frame rendering process taxes available CPU cores and takes long enough for us to measure average power use.

The results are pretty gosh-darned telling. Not surprisingly, the lowest-power solution is a single Core i7-980X. However, the one CPU also takes the longest to finish frame eight of our rendering workload.

Two Xeon W5580s (130 W TDP processors) are actually the most power-hungry—and they don’t even finish the fastest. That honor goes to a couple of Xeon X5680s (also 130 W CPUs).

Our Extech logger sampled power every two seconds, making it easy to gauge the exact time for frame eight to render completely. We turn that time, in seconds, into its fraction of an hour, and then multiply by the average power use during the run.

It turns out that, while a single Core i7-980X is a great way to improve the efficiency of your workstation versus a pair of quad-core CPUs like the Xeon W5580s (despite the fact that the two Xeons are faster), a couple of Xeon X5680s turn that conclusion topsy-turvy. They get our workload finished fast enough that the elevated power is more than compensated for by increased performance.

Of course, this applies exclusively to usage models that are threaded. Once you hit an app that isn’t threaded, or less-optimally threaded, you won’t see the improved performance needed to justify higher power use. Instead, you’ll need to rely on Intel’s power gating to shut down unused pieces of each Xeon processor to prevent idle power use from skewing the overall efficiency picture.

  • one-shot
    Or 24 Logical cores, not really Processors.
    Reply
  • Zerk
    24 threads, 12 cores.

    A+ Excellent Review.
    Reply
  • enzo matrix
    one-shotOr 24 Logical CPUs, not really Processors.Misleading title. I was excited because I assumed intel had finally come out with 12-core server CPUs.
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    I was expecting an even better performance from these CPUs.The performance is still limited by the software you use.
    Reply
  • shin0bi272
    Enzo MatrixMisleading title. I was excited because I assumed intel had finally come out with 12-core server CPUs.they could have gone 4x 6 core cpus without HT too.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Enzo MatrixMisleading title. I was excited because I assumed intel had finally come out with 12-core server CPUs.
    The Xeon 5600-series tops out with 6 cores and 12 threads, yielding 24 logical processors between two sockets. =)
    Reply
  • wh3resmycar
    So many cpu's in task manager...do all but 1 go unused running a single threaded app? shame intel had to go this route with more cores instead of making single core with hyper-threading work faster. you should really only need 2 logical cpu's and hyper threading accomplishes it with 1.

    i have a feeling you dont understand what the word "workstation" means.
    Reply
  • Hyper threading was kind of cool back in the P4 days, but now I don't see the point. Virtually nothing that >people actually use< has any benefit to see from it.. It just makes for cool screenshots imo..

    I guess what this review says is that, if you want performance for stuff you do at home you should pretty much just get a Nehalem i7 6c with some fast ram. The xeons seems to be behind on everything multimedia, much as expected.
    Reply
  • Otus
    cangeliniThe Xeon 5600-series tops out with 6 cores and 12 threads, yielding 24 logical processors between two sockets. =)You should have written "logical processors" or "logical cores" and no one would have argued.
    mheagerNot true. Hyper threading makes it so if one app gets stuck in an endless loop it doesn't suck up all the cpu and freeze the computer.The OS can do that even on a single core with no HT. Not to mention the case with many physical cores which non-HT CPUs have nowadays.
    Reply
  • kokin
    mheagerNot true. Hyper threading makes it so if one app gets stuck in an endless loop it doesn't suck up all the cpu and freeze the computer.But why should it get stuck in an endless loop with all that computing power?
    Reply