Intel has officially launched the Xeon E5-2600 v3, its processor family for mainstream two-socket servers and workstations. The new line-up targets a broad range of workloads and usage models, with four to 18-core versions, offering improved single-threaded performance and a focus on power efficiency.
Announced at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco, the new chips codenamed Haswell-EP are the successors to last year’s Xeon E5-2600 v2 family, and continue to target a wide range of compute usage models covering workstations up to high-performance computing.
The new line-up comprises 29 different chip versions in order to cover these diverse requirements, including some with power requirements down to 55W, some optimised for high clock frequencies and low core counts, and some with a thermal design power (TDP) envelope as high as 160W for demanding high-performance workstation applications.
Eoin McConnell, Intel’s product line director for the Xeon E5 Family, said: “We’re covering a wide range of markets, from enterprise workloads to high-performance computing (HPC) to workstations, and emerging storage and communications applications.”
But the 29 versions are just those on the public roadmap. Intel said it is open to building custom versions of the E5-2600 v3 to meet specific processing requirements, along the same lines as the Xeon E7-8895 v2 that Oracle commissioned to power its latest line of enterprise-class x86 servers.
As well as supporting more cores than previous generations, the E5-2600 v3 moves to DDR4 memory, which offers greater bandwidth, starting at 2,133MHz with a roadmap to 3,200MHz, while lowering power consumption.
Intel has also boosted the speed of the QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) between chips to 9.6 gigatransfers per second (Gtps) up from 8Gtps on earlier Xeons.
Beyond just more cores, Intel said that the E5-2600 v3 features tweaks to the CPU cores to offer about a 110 percent improvement in instructions per clock (IPC) performance over the previous generation, along with better branch prediction, while the bandwidth of the L1 and L2 caches has been doubled.
Other new features include the Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) 2.0 instructions to boost number-crunching performance for HPC and other applications such as image processing. Meanwhile, the supporting motherboard chipset (codenamed Wellsburg) adds support for USB 3.0 ports and up to 10 Sata 3 ports for connecting storage devices.
Like last year’s Xeons, the E5-2600 v3 family is based on three separate die versions, depending on the number of cores. In this case, one is for four to eight cores, a second for 10 to 12 cores, and the third supporting 14 to 18 cores.
The larger two dies sport a new ring bus arrangement linking the cores and caches and other components, with two separate ring buses now linked by buffered switches (see diagram above).
However, a more significant change is in the power management. The E5-2600 v3 features an on-chip Integrated Voltage Regulator (IVR) for the first time, which enables each processor core to run at its own frequency and voltage level, depending on the workload it is experiencing.
Dubbed Per Core P-States (PCPS) by Intel, this enables a reduction in CPU power of up to 36 percent, compared with the previous generation, the firm claimed.
The new Xeons also introduce key enhancements to boost virtualisation. As well as reducing the entry and exit overhead for switching in and out of virtual machines, Intel has added Virtual Machine Control Structure (VMCS) Shadowing, designed to make nested virtualisation more efficient by enabling a root virtual machine manager (VMM) to support guest VMMs.
Also designed to boost virtualisation, the new Xeons support Cache Monitoring, providing support in hardware to identify if an application or virtual machine is adversely affecting others by filling up a disproportionate amount of the cache.
For some Xeon versions aimed at the communications market, the last level cache can also be partitioned to provide each app or virtual machine with its own, separate cache resources.
The version of the new Xeons with the maximum 18 cores is the E5-2699 v3, which is clocked 2.3GHz, while the chip with the highest clock speed is the E5-2637 v3 at 3.5GHz, but which has just four cores. The rest of the E5-2600 v3 line-up covers a whole gamut of clock speeds and configurations, designed to address different application requirements.
“This is our workhorse CPU for a lot of different markets,” said McConnell.
The Xeon E5-2600 v3 is expected to ship almost immediately in new workstation and server systems from a range of vendors, including HP, Dell, Lenovo and Boston Limited.