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Intel Xeon E5-2690 and E5-2660 8-core Sandy Bridge-EP Review

Its been almost two years, an eternity in our IT circles, since the release of the Gulftown/Westmere-EP Xeon 5600 series. After several delays, the Socket 2011 based Xeon E5 2600 series (formerly codenamed Romley) is officially launched today, with Intel porting over the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture to its 2P Xeon offerings. Featuring IPC improvements and two additional cores on higher end SKUs, Chipzilla reaffirms itself as a runaway leader in the x86 Server/Workstation market. Read on for our review!

Introduction / Quick Recap

Prior reading before our quick recap: Xeon E5 (Romley-EP) Launch: Interview with Intel APAC team by Nebojsa Novakovic


The Xeon E5 (8 core/16 thread) silicon live in living colour – with a 20MB L2, die size of 416mm and a transistor count of ~2.263 billion


Overview of the Xeon E5 – basically all the improvements of the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture like AVX and Turbo Boost 2.0 brought to the server/workstation platform


Block Diagram – with 2 QPI links, Quad Channel LRDIMM support and 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes per socket, the Xeon E5 should be a no brainer for high performance workloads


Partitioning of the 32nm planar double-gate transistors Sandy Bridge-EP die


Xeon E5-2600 SKUs ranging from low power quad core variants to the full fledged 8-core 150W monsters


Intel Integrated I/O in a nutshell – integrating traditional north bridge into the CPU and providing DMA access to storage and network controllers for reduced latencies


Unlike earlier Xeons and SNB/SNB-E, we're sad to report that multiplier adjustment is disabled (BIOS values set to read only) and base clock straps are non-existent (frequency only goes up to ~108MHz) across the current stepping. We sure hope Chipzilla changes their mind (since traditionally it has never been obstructed, albeit not officially supported) or maniac SR-X overclockers/high frequency traders are going to be turned away.


Quad channel IMC in the Xeon E5 also supports DDR3 LRDIMM (evolution of FB-DIMM but pin compatible with regular UDIMM) that allows densities up to 768GB (24 x 32GB modules)

Lennard Seah
Why can't I have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads

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