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Haswell-Based Xeon E3-1200: Three Generations, Benchmarked

Xeon E3-1275 v3: A Lot Like Haswell On The Desktop, With Pro Features

After many years of working with these platforms on a daily basis, and many hours over the past few weeks running benchmarks, it's clear than Intel's Xeon E3-1200 family is progressing along in an evolutionary manner. By that we mean successive generations are yielding small but consistent performance increases. You can use our benchmark data to decide whether a Xeon E3-1200 v3 CPU is a worthwhile update based on your existing IT infrastructure.

The technologists in us wonder if this will become a pain point, though. Intel's competition has already expressed an intention to enter the server space with ARM-based designs that continue picking up performance at a rapid rate. Fortunately, from what we've seen in testing the Ivy Bridge-EP-based Xeon E5s and the Avoton SoCs leveraging Silvermont, Intel is prepared to battle.

What does all of that mean for Xeon E3? It'll almost certainly come under increasing pressure from within Intel and without. The latest CPUs certainly have their merits, though. In terms of power, Intel's new v3 generation shows off the architecture's emphasis on reducing idle consumption. Performance from the HD Graphics P4600 engine is also quite a bit better. We know the on-die subsystem is quite a ways off from what a discrete graphics card can do. But a growing collection of professional certifications at least make the integrated graphics component viable for entry-level design work. We'll tell Intel's workstation team the same thing we told the desktop crew: we'd love to see a version of the Xeon E3 with GT3e on-board, certified for professional applications.

A majority of Xeon E3s are sold into server environments where the HD Graphics component isn't needed. In those applications, improvements made to the Haswell architecture are really significant. Furthermore, as density continues to be emphasized by micro-servers for the cloud and other applications (like HP's Moonshot), having fewer components down on the motherboard helps enable smaller designs. Haswell's fully-integrated voltage regulator facilitates this. The architecture's advantages really map over well to the datacenter, then. Lower idle power use, better performance, and fewer on-board components are all great differentiators.

GPU-enabled versions, such as Intel's Xeon E3-1275, are meant for mid-range workstations requiring ECC-capable memory and no discrete graphics card. I can't help but think back to Chris Angelini's The Core i7-4770K Review: Haswell Is Faster; Desktop Enthusiasts Yawn, where his conclusion weighed the modest performance gains against existing LGA 2011-based solutions. The fact of the matter is that the entry price for a new LGA 2011-based CPU is similar to the Xeon E3-1275 v3 if you're planning to use an add-in graphics card. The bonus you get from either a Sandy Bridge- or Ivy Bridge-EP-based setup is that the number of cores you can get your hands on, total PCIe connectivity, and memory throughput are all greater than what the LGA 1150 platform supports.

At the end of the day, the fact that we have Intel's Xeon E3-1275 as a persistent offering through three generations means there are professionals buying this CPU. The addition of ECC support is notable, as are the improved power characteristics. Of course, purchasing a workstation CPU with on-die graphics over one without means that subsystem is important to you. And in that sense, the success of Xeon E3-1275 v3 is largely contingent on Intel's ability to add professional application certifications, continue enhancing performance, and expound on features like OpenCL support.

  • dgingeri
    I have two Dell T110 II servers, one with an E3-1230 and one with an E3-1220v2, that cost me less than $800 each. I can tell you, they are great little machines, perfect for self-teaching Windows Server or ESXi. I now have the E3-1220v2 set up as my Windows 2008r2 router/DNS/DHCP/file/print server, and it uses a mere 45W of power when idle. The E3-1230 is my ESXi 5.1 machine right now.
    Reply
  • CommentariesAnd More
    Best article to say in your face to those who think Xeons are poor performers.
    Reply
  • vmem
    honestly not surprising at all

    I think 'meh' will be the overwhelming majority consensus on this chip
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  • g-unit1111
    11571644 said:
    honestly not surprising at all

    I think 'meh' will be the overwhelming majority consensus on this chip

    That's kind of the way I see it. I don't think the Xeon is anything to write home about like some people on this board do, but the average user and/or gamer won't notice a lick of difference between an i5, i7, and low end Xeon. I would only recommend them in instances of things like Photoshop and heavy duty CS5 usage, but even then an i7-4770K or i7-4820K would be a better choice.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    While ARM chips may be doubling performance on a fairly regular basis, you need to keep in mind that ARM chips are starting from pretty far back. By the time they catch up with mainstream x86 chips, they will most likely hit very similar IPC and frequency scaling brick walls as x86 chips and won't gain much ground beyond that.

    The only real threat from ARM is to profit margins: once ARM catches up, it may become more difficult for Intel to maintain the large premiums they currently command across most markets.
    Reply
  • the1kingbob
    Did Toms looks at the AMD 6100, 6200, and 6300? That would make to be an interesting comparison since the underlying architecture changed from the 6200 to 6300 (i think, maybe 6100 to 6200)
    Reply
  • Amdlova
    people in my county buy this processor for gaming... need a seriosly test on this. 1230v2 have same price 3570k here!
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  • dgingeri
    "I would only recommend them in instances of things like Photoshop and heavy duty CS5 usage, but even then an i7-4770K or i7-4820K would be a better choice." They wouldn't be any advantage in either case. The advantage of the Xeon isn't performance, but stability. It's use of ECC memory makes it much better for purposes like a high end workstation for an engineer or digital artist so their work isn't lost or interrupted by a memory error and crash or in servers where it can stay running reliably for months at a time.

    In addition, the chipsets and platforms used with Xeons are more stringently held to industry standards, making them known quantities for device makers. Enterprise raid controllers are frequently unsupported on a standard desktop system with a Core i7 4770 and Z87 chipset, while they would be supported on a Xeon E3-1275v3 with a C226 chipset, even though the actual silicon design is exactly the same between the two.

    There really isn't any difference in the silicon itself between a Haswell Core i7 and a Haswell Xeon E3, so there won't be a performance difference. The difference is in the stability of equipment surrounding each.
    Reply
  • pjkenned
    InvalidError - these are not in the same league as the ARM chips. Avoton and Rangeley are the real ARM competitor. I JUST got two Avoton 8-core platforms in the lab as this article was going live (benchmarks here: http://forums.servethehome.com/processors-motherboards/2444-intel-avoton-c2750-benchmarks-supermicro-a1sai-2750f.html ) If ARM was targeting Centerton (the Atom S1260), they are targeting a platform way behind Avoton and the E3 reviewed above.

    the1kingbob - I have AMD Opteron 3000, 4000 and 6000 series chips in the lab and use them daily. The Operton 3300 series would be the closest platform but the performance is significantly behind the Haswell Xeon E3-1275 V3. Those Opterons also do not have integrated GPUs like the E3-12x5 V1 V2 and V3 chips so are hard to compare.
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  • InvalidError
    11572444 said:
    InvalidError - these are not in the same league as the ARM chips.
    And I never said they were - at least for now. But ARM might get there if they manage to sustain their current improvement pace for a few years while AMD and Intel remain stuck for most intents and purposes.

    Yes, Intel released some cut-down x86 chips to compete with ARM for low-power market segments but this is only a temporary fix since Intel will likely add much of that stuff back in to keep up with ARM as ARM performance ramps up. The interesting part in 3-5 years will be where ARM will go once they hit the same steep diminishing return slope AMD and Intel are on.
    Reply