The massive 416 mm² large chip contains no less than 2263 million transistors. Each generation of Intel and AMD server CPUs seem to get a bit larger as you can see below.

The Xeon 5400, 5500/5600 and E5-2600 package on top, the Opteron 2300/8300 and 6100/6200 below.

So how does the new Xeon compare to the older Xeons and the latest Opterons? Let's take a look at the paper specs:

  Xeon E5-2600
"Sandy Bridge EP"
Opteron 6200
"Interlagos"
Opteron 6100
"Magny-cours"
Xeon 5600
"Westmere"
Cores (Modules)/Threads 8/16 8/16 12/12 6/12
L1 Instruction 8x 32 KB 4-way 8x 64 KB 2-way 12x 64 KB 2-way 6x 32 KB 4-way
L1 Data 8x 32 KB 8-way 16x 16 KB 4-way 12x 64 KB 2-way 6x 32 KB 8-way
L2 Cache 8x 256 KB 4x 2MB 12x 0.5MB 6x 256 KB
L3 Cache 20 MB 2x 8MB 2x 6MB 12MB
Max. Memory Bandwidth
(Per socket)
51.2 GB/s 51.2 GB/s 42.6 GB/s 32 GB/s
IMC Clock Speed = corespeed 2GHz 1.8GHz 2GHz
Interconnect 2x QPI 2.0 (8 GT/s) 4x HT 3.1 (6.4 GT/s) 4x HT 3.1 (6.4 GT/s) 2x QPI (4.8-6.4 GT/s)
Transistors (Billion) 2,26 2x 1,2 2x 904 1,17
Die Size (mm²) 416 2x 315 2x 346 248

The new Xeon comes with a huge die, and with its ring interconnect and improved RAS, it starts to look more like a successor of the Westmere-EX than the Westmere-EP Xeon. In fact the ring of the Xeon E5 is more advanced: it has a PCIe agent, PCU and IMC on the same ring as the 8 cores.

The massive die, the two extra cores, the integration of the PCIe controller and no competition in the high-end have made it easier for Intel to justify a price increase. The Sandy Bridge EP is somewhat more expensive than its predecessor, as you can see in the table below. The first clockspeed mentioned is the regular clock, the second the turbo clock with all cores active (most realistic one) and the last the maximum turbo clock.

Intel new vs. Intel 2-socket SKU Comparison
Xeon
5600
Cores/
Threads
TDP Clock
(GHz)
Price Xeon
E-5
Cores/
Threads
TDP Clock
(GHz)
Price
High Performance High Performance
          2690 8/16 135W 2.9/3.3/3.8 $2057
X5690 6/12 130W 3.46/3.6/3.73 $1663 2680 8/16 130W 2.7/3.1/3.5 $1723
          2670 8/16 115W 2.6/3/3.3 $1552
          2665 8/16 115W 2.4/2.8/3.1 $1440
X5675 6/12 95W 3.06/3.33/3.46 $1440          
X5660 6/12 95W 2.8/3.06/3.2 $1219 2660 8/16 95W 2.2/2.6/3.0 $1329
X5650 6/12 95W 2.66/2.93/3.06 $996 2650 8/16 95W 2/2.4/2.8 $1107
Midrange Midrange
E5649 6/12 80W 2.53/2.66/2.8 $774 2640 6/12 95W 2.5/2.5/3 $885
          2630 6/12 95W 2.3/2.3/2.8 $612
E5645 6/12 80W 2.4/2.53/2.66 $551          
          2620 6/12 95W 2/2/2.5 $406
E5620 4/8 80W 2.4/2.53/2.66 $387          
High clock / budget High clock / budget
X5647 4/8 130W 2.93/3.06/3.2 $774 2643 4/8 130W 3.3/3.3/3.5 $885
E5630 4/8 80W 2.53/2.66/2.8 $551          
E5607 4/4 80W 2.26 $276 2609 4/4 80W 2.4 $294
Power Optimized Power Optimized
L5640 6/12 60W 2.26/2.4/2.66 $996 2650L 8/16 70W 1.8/2/2.3 $1107
5630 4/8 40W 2.13/2.26/2.4 $551 2630L 8/16 60W 2/2/2.5 $662

The Xeon E5-2690's somewhat out of the ordinary TDP (135W) is easy to explain. With a very small TDP increase (+5W) Intel's engineers noticed they could raise the clock of the best SKU with another 200 MHz from 2.7 GHz (130W) to 2.9 GHz. The E5-2690 was more or less a safeguard in the event that the Interlagos Opteron turned out to be a real "Bulldozer". As the Opteron could not meet these expectations, the high performance of the 135W chip allows Intel to ask more than $2000 for its best Xeon EP. Which is quite a bit more than what the best Xeon EP used to sell for so far ($1500-1600).

Since the new Xeon has two extra cores and integrates the I/O hub (IOH), it is understandable that the TDP values are a bit higher compared to the older Xeon.

How does these new Xeon SKUs compare to the Opteron? See below.

AMD vs. Intel 2-socket SKU Comparison
Xeon
E5
Cores/
Threads
TDP Clock
(GHz)
Price Opteron Modules/
Integer
cores
TDP Clock
(GHz)
Price
High Performance High Performance
                   
2665 8/16 115W 2.4/2.8/3.1 $1440          
2650 8/16 95W 2/2.4/2.8 $1107 6282 SE 8/16 140W 2.6/3.0/3.3 $1019
Midrange Midrange
2640 6/12 95W 2.5/2.5/3 $885 6276 8/16 115W 2.3/2.6/3.2 $788
2630 6/12 95W 2.3/2.3/2.8 $639 6274 8/16 115W 2.2/2.5/3.1 $639
          6272 8/16 115W 2.0/2.4/3.0 $523
2620 6/12 95W 2/2/2.5 $406 6238 6/12 115W 2.6/2.9/3.2 $455
          6234 6/12 115W 2.4/2.7/3.0 $377
High clock / budget High clock / budget
2643 4/8 130W 3.3/3.3/3.5 $885          
          6220 4/8 115W 3.0/3.3/3.6 $455
2609 4/4 80W 2.4 $294 6212 4/8 115W 2.6/2.9/3.2 $266
Power Optimized Power Optimized
2630L 8/16 60W 2/2/2.5 $662 6262HE 8/16 85W 1.6/2.1/2.9 $523

Let's start with the midrange first, as the competition is the fiercest there and these SKUs are among the most popular on the market. Based on the paper specs, AMD's 6276, 6274 and Intel's 2640 and 2630 are in a neck-and-neck race. AMD offers 16 smaller integer clusters, while Intel offers 6 or 8 heavy, slightly higher clocked cores with SMT. And while we did not receive a Xeon E5-2630 for benchmarking purposes, we were able to quickly simulate one by disabling the 2 cores of our Xeon 2660, which gave us a six-core processor at 2.2 GHz with 20 MB L3-cache. This pseudo-2660 should perform very similar to the real Xeon 2630, which is clocked 4.5% higher, but has 5 MB less L3-cache.

Meanwhile in the high performance segment we'll be comparing our six-core 2660 with the Opteron 6276. The CPUs in this comparison aren't going to be in the same price bracket, but as the AMD platform is typically a bit cheaper the 2660 and the Opteron 6276 end up having similar total platform costs. Otherwise for a more straightforward comparison based solely on CPU prices the 2660's closest competitor would be the Opteron 6274. We don't have one of those on hand, but you can get a pretty good idea of how that would compare by knocking 4% off of the performance of the 6276..

Finally, for the "Power Optimized" market there seems to be little contest over who is going to win there. Intel's chip is a bit more expensive, but it offers a much lower TDP, just as many threads, and a higher clockspeed. Considering that the Intel chip also integrates the PCIe controller, it looks like Intel will have no trouble winning this battle by a landslide. Fortunately for AMD, this review is mostly about the more popular midrange market.

Introduction The New Xeon Platform
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  • Shuxclams - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    Looking at a complete visualization transformation in our server room, looks like the decision was made for us as far as architecture. Wow.... Reply
  • TeXWiller - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    <quote>The new Xeon also supports faster DDR-3 1600. Contrary to the Interlagos Opteron which can only support this memory speed with one DIMM per channel</quote>Interlagos supports memory up to DDR3-1600 using two single rank memory modules, or one single rank and one double rank module if using registered memory, and two single rank modules if using unbuffered memory. DDR3-1866 is supported on a single load-reduced registered, or on a single unbuffered module per channel. It depends on the board manufacturer and more importantly, it can be all read on the manual, so to speak. Reply
  • davegraham - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    AMD Interlagos can support more than 1 DDR3-1600 ECC/REG dimm per channel. I run 8 on a single socket 6276 and it works at the rated speed. Reply
  • TeXWiller - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    Too bad these kinds of errors in the articles are not usually fixed. Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    I will double check . Reply
  • meloz - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    Just wanted to congratulate Johan on a job well done. Very thorough analysis, Intel have achieved a very dominant position with this new platform and this is reflected in pricing of their processors as well!

    AMD was already a sub 10% niche (with a market share to mirror) in the data center, now even that niche has evaporated.

    New Opterons (based on Piledriver) might decrease the performance gap to Intel under certain benchmarks, but I doubt they will beat Intel. Intel has plenty of SKUs above the quickest AMD Opterons to adjust prices and kill any new challenge from AMD, instantly.
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    Thanks! Although I hope Intel gets a bit more competition though. Reply
  • alpha754293 - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    Thanks for running those.

    Are those results with HTT or without?

    If you can write a little more about the run settings that you used (with/without HTT, number of processes), that would be great.

    Very interesting results thought.

    It would have been interesting to see what the power consumption and total energy consumption numbers would be for these runs (to see if having the faster processor would really be that beneficial).

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • alpha754293 - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    I should work with you more to get you running some Fluent benchmarks as well.

    But, yes, HPC simulations DO take a VERY long time. And we beat the crap out of our systems on a regular basis.
    Reply
  • jhh - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    This is the most interesting part to me, as someone interested in high network I/O. With the packets going directly into cache, as long as they get processed before they get pushed out by subsequent packets, the packet processing code doesn't have to stall waiting for the packet to be pulled from RAM into cache. Potentially, the packet never needs to be written to RAM at all, avoiding using that memory capacity. In the other direction, web servers and the like can produce their output without ever putting the results into RAM. Reply

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