What Intel is Offering

So what are Intel newest offerings and how do they compare to AMD? First, since power consumption is more important in servers than in high-end desktops, Intel selects the 2.93GHz Nehalems with the lowest power consumption (less than or equal to 95W TDP) and sells them in the server market. The 95W-130W TDP parts are for the desktop market. There is a 3.2GHz Xeon W5580 at 130W, but it's only targeted at the workstation market.

Processor Speed and Cache Comparison
Xeon model Speed (GHz) Max. Turbo Max. Turbo
4 cores busy
L3 Cache (MB) TDP (W)
X5570 2.93 3.33GHz 3.2GHz 8MB 95
X5560 2.8 3.2GHz 3.066GHz 8MB 95
X5550 2.66 3.066GHz 2.93GHz 8MB 95
E5540 2.53 2.8GHz 2.66GHz 8MB 80
E5530 2.4 2.66GHz 2.53GHz 8MB 80
L5520 2.26 2.4GHz 2.33GHz 8MB 60
L5510 2.13 No turbo No Turbo 4MB 60
E5520 2.26 2.4GHz 2.33GHz 8MB 80
E5506 2.13 No turbo No Turbo 4MB 80
E5504 2 No turbo No Turbo 4MB 80
E5502 1.86 No turbo No Turbo 4MB 80

Notice that the fastest 95W parts are able to boost their frequency with two 133MHz increments even if all four cores are busy. In reality, we have noticed that with most business workloads a 2.93GHz Xeon X5570 is running at 3.066 most of the time and from time to time even at 3.2GHz, but relatively rarely at 2.93GHz. In other words, you get a bit more clock speed than advertised. In rendering we noticed that peaking at 3.2GHz was rather rare, so the workload really determines how high the CPU will clock.

 


1366 pads make contact with the new Xeon motherboards

 

The E5520 to E5540 Xeons boost their clock speed by only one increment if all cores are busy. The E550x versions are really the low end: they get no Hyper-Threading (SMT) nor are they able to boost their clock speed (Turbo mode).

Index Testing Methodology
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  • snakeoil - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    oops it seems that hypertreading is not scaling very well too bad for intel Reply
  • eva2000 - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Bloody awesome results for the new 55xx series. Can't wait to see some of the larger vBulletin forums online benefiting from these monsters :) Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    huh? Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    I was wondering if you got any feeling whether Hyperthreading scaled better on Nehalem than Netburst? And if so, do you think this is due to improvements made to HT itself in Nehalem, just do to Nehalem 4+1 instruction decoders and more execution units or because software is better optimized for multithreading/hyperthreading now? Maybe I'm thinking mostly desktop, but HT had kind of a hit or miss reputation in Netburst, and it'd be interesting to see if it just came before it's time. Reply
  • TA152H - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    Well, for one, the Nehalem is wider than the Pentium 4, so that's a big issue there. On the negative side (with respect to HT increase, but really a positive) you have better scheduling with Nehalem, in particular, memory disambiguation. The weaker the scheduler, the better the performance increase from HT, in general.

    I'd say it's both. Clearly, the width of Nehalem would help a lot more than the minor tweaks. Also, you have better memory bandwidth, and in particular, a large L1 cache. I have to believe it was fairly difficult for the Pentium 4 to keep feeding two threads with such a small L1 cache, and then you have the additional L2 latency vis-a-vis the Nehalem.

    So, clearly the Nehalem is much better designed for it, and I think it's equally clear software has adjusted to the reality of more computers having multiple processors.

    On top of this, these are server applications they are running, not mainstream desktop apps, which might show a different profile with regards to Hyper-threading improvements.

    It would have to be a combination.
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    The L1-cache and the way that the Pentium 4 decoded was an important (maybe even the most important) factor in the mediocre SMT performance. Whenever the trace cache missed (and it was quite small, something of the equivalent of 16 KB), the Pentium 4 had only one real decoder. This means that you have to feed two threads with one decoder. In other words, whenever you get a miss in the trace cache, HT did more bad than good in the Pentium 4. That is clearly is not the case in Nehalem with excellent decoding capabilities and larger L1.

    And I fully agree with your comments, although I don't think mem disambiguation has a huge impact on the "usefullness" of SMT. After all, there are lots of reasons why the ample execution resources are not fully used: branches, L2-cache misses etc.
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Not only that, Pentium 4 had the Replay feature to try to make up for having such a long pipeline stage architecture. When Replay went wrong, it would use resources that would be hindering the 2nd thread.

    Core uarch has no such weaknesses.
    Reply
  • SilentSin - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    Wow...that's just ridiculous how much improvement was made, gg Intel. Can't wait to see how the 8-core EX's do, if this launch is any indication that will change the server landscape overnight.

    However, one thing I would like to see compared, or slightly modified, is the power consumption figures. Instead of an average amount of power used at idle or load, how about a total consumption figure over the length of a fixed benchmark (ie- how much power was used while running SPECint). I think that would be a good metric to illustrate very plainly how much power is saved from the greater performance with a given load. I saw the chart in the power/performance improvement on the Bottom Line page but it's not quite as digestible as or as easy to compare as a straight kW per benchmark figure would be. Perhaps give it the same time range as the slowest competing part completes the benchmark in. This would give you the ability to make a conclusion like "In the same amount of time the Opteron 8384 used to complete this benchmark, the 5570 used x watts less, and spent x seconds in idle". Since servers are rarely at 100% load at all times it would be nice to see how much faster it is and how much power it is using once it does get something to chew on.

    Anyway, as usual that was an extremely well done write up, covered mostly everything I wanted to see.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    I think that is a very good method for determining total power consumption. Obviously this doesn't show cpu power consumption, but more importantly the overall consumption for a given unit of work.

    Nice thinking.
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    I am trying to hard, but I do not see the difference with our power numbers. This is the average power consumption of one CPU during 10 minutes of DVD-store OLTP activity. As readers have the performance numbers, you can perfectly calculate performance/watt or per KWh. Per server would be even better (instead of per CPU) but our servers were too different.

    Or am I missing something?
    Reply

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