Simply put, the new Intel Xeon "Haswell EP" chips are multi-core behemoths: they support up to eighteen cores (with Hyper-Threading yielding 36 logical cores). Core counts have been increasing for years now, so it is easy to dismiss the new Xeon E5-2600 v3 as "business as usual", but it is definitely not. Piling up cores inside a CPU package is one thing, but getting them to do useful work is a long chain of engineering efforts that starts with hardware intelligence and that ends with making good use of the best software libraries available.

While some sites previously reported that an "unknown source" told them Intel was cooking up a 14-core Haswell EP Xeon chip, and that the next generation 14 nm Xeon E5 "Broadwell" would be an 18-core design, the reality is that Intel has an 18-core Haswell EP design, and we have it for testing. This is yet another example of truth beating fiction.

18 cores and 45MB LLC under that shiny new and larger heatspreader.

The technical challenge of the first step to make sure that such a multi-core monster actually works is the pinnacle of CPU engineering. The biggest challenge is keeping all those cores fed with data. A massive (up to 45MB) L3 cache will help, but with such massive caches, the latency and power consumption can soar quickly. Such high core counts introduce many other problems as well: cache coherency traffic can grow exponentially, one thread can get too far ahead of another, the memory controller can become a bottleneck, and so on. And there is more than the "internal CPU politics".

Servers have evolved into being small datacenters: in a modern virtualized server, some of the storage and network services that used to be handled by external devices are now software inside of virtual machines (VMware vSAN and NSX for example). In other words, not only are these servers the home of many applications, the requirements of these applications are diverging. Some of these applications may hog the Last Level Cache and starve the others, others may impose a heavy toll on the internal I/O. It will be interesting to see how well the extra cores can be turned into real world productivity gains.

The new Xeon E5 is also a challenge to the datacenter manager looking to make new server investments. With 22 new SKUs ranging from a 3.5GHz quad-core model up to an 18-core 2.3GHz SKU, there are almost too many choices. While we don't have all of the SKUs for testing, we do have several of them, so let's dig in and see what Haswell EP has to offer.

Refresher: the Haswell Core
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  • kepstin - Monday, September 08, 2014 - link

    Most Linux distributions provide a tool called "turbostat" which prints statistical summaries of real clock speeds and c state usage on Intel cpus. Reply
  • kepstin - Monday, September 08, 2014 - link

    Note that if turbostat is missing or too old (doesn't support your cpu), you can build it yourself pretty quick - grab the latest linux kernel source, cd to tools/power/x86/turbostat, and type 'make'. It'll build the tool in the current directory. Reply
  • julianb - Monday, September 08, 2014 - link

    Finally the e5-xxx v3s have arrived. I too can't wait for the Cinebench and 3DS Max benchmark results.
    Any idea if now that they are out the e5-xxxx v2s will drop down in price?
    Or Intel doesn't do that...
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, September 09, 2014 - link

    Correct, Intel does not really lower prices of older CPUs. They just gradually phase out. Reply
  • tromp - Monday, September 08, 2014 - link

    As an additional test of the latency of the DRAM subsystem, could you please run the "make speedup" scaling benchmark of my Cuckoo Cycle proof-of-work system at https://github.com/tromp/cuckoo ?
    That will show if 72 threads (2 cpus with 18 hyperthreaded cores) suffice to saturate the DRAM subsystem with random accesses.

    -John
    Reply
  • Hulk - Monday, September 08, 2014 - link

    I know this is not the workload these parts are designed for, but just for kicks I'd love to see some media encoding/video editing apps tested. Just to see what this thing can do with a well coded mainstream application. Or to see where the apps fades out core-wise. Reply
  • Assimilator87 - Monday, September 08, 2014 - link

    Someone benchmark F@H bigadv on these, stat! Reply
  • iwod - Tuesday, September 09, 2014 - link

    I am looking forward to 16 Core Native Die, 14nm Broadwell Next year, and DDR4 is matured with much better pricing. Reply
  • Brutalizer - Tuesday, September 09, 2014 - link

    Yawn, the new upcoming SPARC M7 cpu has 32 cores. SPARC has had 16 cores for ages. Since some generations back, the SPARC cores are able to dedicate all resources to one thread if need be. This way the SPARC core can have one very strong thread, or massive throughput (many threads). The SPARC M7 cpu is 10 billion transistors:
    http://www.enterprisetech.com/2014/08/13/oracle-cr...
    and it will be 3-4x faster than the current SPARC M6 (12 cores, 96 threads) which holds several world records today. The largest SPARC M7 server will have 32-sockets, 1024 cores, 64TB RAM and 8.192 threads. One SPARC M7 cpu will be as fast as an entire Sunfire 25K. :)

    The largest Xeon E5 server will top out at 4-sockets probably. I think the Xeon E7 cpus top out at 8-socket servers. So, if you need massive RAM (more than 10TB) and massive performance, you need to venture into Unix server territory, such as SPARC or POWER. Only they have 32-socket servers capable of reaching the highest performance.

    Of course, the SGI Altix/UV2000 servers have 10.000s of cores and 100TBs of RAM, but they are clusters, like a tiny supercomputer. Only doing HPC number crunching workloads. You will never find these large Linux clusters run SAP Enterprise workloads, there are no such SAP benchmarks, because clusters suck at non HPC workloads.

    -Clusters are typically serving one user who picks which workload to run for the next days. All SGI benchmarks are HPC, not a single Enterprise benchmark exist for instance SAP or other Enterprise systems. They serve one user.

    -Large SMP servers with as many as 32 sockets (or even 64-sockets!!!) are typically serving thousands of users, running Enterprise business workloads, such as SAP. They serve thousands of users.
    Reply
  • Assimilator87 - Tuesday, September 09, 2014 - link

    That's great and all, but there's one huge flaw with SPARC processors. They cannot run Crysis. Reply

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