Performance and RAS features took a giant leap forwared when Intel replaced the Xeon 7400 with the Xeon 7500. The memory subsystem went from a high latency, totally bandwidth choked loser (hardly 10GB/s for 24 cores) to a low latency and very high bandwidth champion (up to 70GB/s). The Xeon E7 builds further on that excellent platform, and adds up to 35% higher performance.

We now have a proven platform with excellent RAS features that needs slightly less power now while it provides a decent performance boost. That's excellent, but the Xeon E7 still has a few weakness. One weakness is the relatively high power consumption at idle load. Compared to the high-end Power 7 servers, this kind of power consumption is probably very reasonable. The Power 7 CPUs are in the 100 to 170W TDP range, while the Xeon E7s are in the 95 to 130W TDP range. A quad 3.3GHz Power 755 with (256GB RAM) server consumes 1650W according to IBM (slide 24), while our first measurements show that our 2.4GHz E7-4870 server will consume about 1300W in those circumstances.

Considering that the 3.3GHz Power 7 and 2.4GHz E7-4870 perform at the same level, we'll go out on a limb and assume that the new Xeon wins in the performance/watt race. AMD might take advantage of this "weakness", but availablility of quad 16-core "Bulldozer" servers is still months away and we don't know what the power use will be yet.

The 10-core Xeons are pretty expensive ($3000-4600 per CPU), but many of these systems are bought to run software that will cost 10 times more. In a nutshell, Intel's Xeon E7 moves up the server CPU food chain. The Xeon E7 closes the performance gap with the best RISC CPUs (see the SAP benchmarks), offers lower power and cost, and the rest of the x86 competition is relegated to the low-end of the quad x86 market.

For those looking for a virtualization platform, there is no x86 server that is able to offer such low response times at such high consolidation ratios. However, in order to get a good performance/watt ratio, you need to make sure that your quad Xeon E7 servers are working under high CPU loads. The quad Xeon E7 server is a good platform for consolidating CPU intensive applications. For less intensive VMs, it makes a lot more sense to check out the dual Xeon and quad Opteron offerings.

I would also like to thank to Tijl Deneut for his invaluable assistance.

Real-World Power


View All Comments

  • L. - Thursday, June 2, 2011 - link

    Err... no it's not the same price.
    Besides, "a lot worse on benchmarks" is a huge pile of shit, if that was the case, why would Cray and others take Opteron for SC ?
    Why would anyone, in fact, go out of their habits to buy a chip from the underdog ?

    Believe me, even if you see a lot favoring Intel, there's a lot favoring AMD that's less shown but there regardless..

    As I said, same perf/watt on the anand benchmarks for two chips that are a die shrink away from each other... this is ludicrous.
  • Casper42 - Thursday, May 19, 2011 - link

    I had heard previously that 32GB DIMM Support (Quad Rank) was actually coming from Westmere CPUs themselves as opposed to Mobo or Chipset.

    The part of the review where you talk a little about the Hardware Intel sent over makes it seem like the Server is the part responsible for the 32GB DIMM support.

    Perhaps you could research and clarify a little?
  • Michael REMY - Friday, May 20, 2011 - link

    cinebench benchmark is missing so much...

    My lord anandtech...?
    why didn't you test cinebench on this god machine ?
    why not ?

    why do you thinh this kind of machine is preferend to server/network instead 3D application ?

    even a single cinebench (which is a x64 portable application in windows ) need less 15 minutes to download, unpack, run,re-rerun the test...

    why no 3d benchmark in this test. i 'm so desapointed...

  • JohanAnandtech - Saturday, May 21, 2011 - link

    I'll run that for you, but Cinebench is limited to 64 threads. Other suggestions you would like to see? Reply
  • Veteran_69 - Friday, May 20, 2011 - link

    Looking at the power consumption and results. It is clear to me that AMD is better in the Perf/Watt performance. Even with an outdated platform (Why no tests with magny-cours again?)
    they manage to perform better with the same currentdraw.
  • JohanAnandtech - Saturday, May 21, 2011 - link

    "(Why no tests with magny-cours again?)"

    What do you mean by this? The AMD Opteron 6174 is one of the best Magny-cours available.
  • Veteran_69 - Friday, May 20, 2011 - link

    Since my previous comment was deleted for whateve reason. I'll rephrase.

    Why arent there any perf/wat figures? If you look at the data it is Clear that an old AMD platform offers superior Perf/Watt. I also noticed any tests with Magny-cours as a competition is missing?
  • silverblue - Friday, May 20, 2011 - link

    The Opteron 6174 and 6176 are Magny-Cours processors, so they were indeed tested. I believe the choice in using the 6174 for the majority of the review would be down to the 6176's higher TDP as discussed at the following link:
  • behold4r - Friday, May 20, 2011 - link

    I have very much enjoyed reading this article as well as the previous one about the 4p systems of intel which are in fact very interesting i must say, because benchmarks about such systems are very rare to find on the net.

    I would only like to ask if it is possible to see any rendering benchmarks on such a system. I am using some 3D software and i would very much like to see how the AMD system with the 48 cores is doing when rendering (with mental ray and vray preferably).

    I focus on the AMD server system because it really is a very good price per performance example whereas Intel is indeed ahead performance wise, but the prices for an Intel 4P system are astronomical to say the least. I personally believe that very few companies need such a thing, while most of them can do well with an AMD system.

    And since you are talking about virtualization, if a company needs more power, just buy another 4P AMD system, the overall result will be a faster system (by far) than a single Intel one, while having the price of a single Intel server! (3K+ for a single intel cpu chip is just outrageous, intel charges like there is noone else on this planet with an equivalent product, at least for the x86 market). Though two AMD systems will use a little more power than a single Intel one (~1150W for 2 AMD servers instead of ~900W for a single Intel based on the info of this article, which is not that much ahead if you think of the performance you gain).

    Then again there are the infrastructure costs (more 10 gig ports for the extra system, extra UPS load thus more UPS power to handle the extra system, extra space in the rack, and of course extra cooling for the 2nd system). Which I think these issues are the real deal and hence will make the final decision.

    Anyway, that's all i wanted to say. Again i only wanted to ask for some rendering benches, if it such a hustle than at least a mere cinebench 11.5 would be fine.

  • Kiijibari - Saturday, May 21, 2011 - link

    Where is AES in the CPU-Z screenshot, is it not supported ?
    Would be very strange for a server CPU, wouldn't it ?

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