Our conclusion about the Xeon E5-2690 2.9 GHz is short and simple: it is the fastest server CPU you can get in a reasonably priced server and it blows the competition and the previous Xeon generation away. If performance is your first and foremost priority, this is the CPU to get. It consumes a lot of power if you push it to its limits, but make no mistake: this beast sips little energy when running at low and medium loads. The price tag is the only real disadvantage. In many cases this pricetag will be dwarfed by other IT costs. It is simply a top notch processor, no doubt about it.

For those that prioritize performance/watt or performance/dollar, we've summarized our findings in a comparison table. We made 3 columns for easy comparison:

  • In the first column, we compare Intel's newest generation with the previous one. We compare the CPUs with midrange TDP (95W).
  • In the second column, we compare Intel's and AMD's midrange offerings.
  • In the third column we compare CPUs with a similar pricepoint as we believe that a six-core E5-2660 will be very close to the performance of 2.3 GHz Xeon E5-2630.

We also group our benchmarks in different software groups and indicate the importance of this software group in the server market (we motivated this here).

Software: Importance in the market Xeon E5-2660
vs Xeon X5650
Xeon E5-2660
vs Opteron 6276
Xeon E5-2660 6C
vs Opteron 6276

Virtualisation: 20-50%

ESXi + Linux




OLAP Databases: 10-15%




MS SQL Server 2008 R2




HPC: 5-7%




LS Dyna




Rendering software: 2-3%








3DS Max 2012 (iRay)












Other: N/A




Encryption/Decryption AES




Encryption/Decryption Twofish/Serpent








It is pretty amazing that with the exception of two rendering applications with relatively mediocre scaling, the new Xeon is able to outperform the previous Xeons by a large margin (from 30% up to 60%) in a wide range of applications. All that performance comes with lower energy consumption and a very fast I/O interface. Whether you want high performance per dollar or performance per watt, the Xeon E5-2660 is simply a home run. End of story.

For those who are more price sensitive, the Xeon E5-2630 costs less than the Opteron 6276 and performs (very likely) better in every real world situation we could test.

And what about the Opteron? Unless the actual Xeon-E5 servers are much more expensive than expected, it looks like it will be hard to recommend the current Opteron 6200. However if Xeon E5 servers end up being quite a bit more expensive than similar Xeon 5600 servers, the Opteron 6200 might still have a chance as a low end virtualization server. After all, quite a few virtualization servers are bottlenecked by memory capacity and not by raw processing power. The Opteron can then leverage the fact that it can offer the same memory capacity at a lower price point.

The Opteron might also have a role in the low end, price sensitive HPC market, where it still performs very well. It won't have much of chance in the high end clustered one as Intel has the faster and more power efficient PCIe interface.

Ultimately, our hope for stiffer competion lies with the newest Opteron "Abu Dhabi" which is based upon the "Piledriver" core. The new Opteron was after all made to operate at 3 GHz and higher clockspeeds as opposed to the meager 2.3/2.6 GHz we have seen so far. Apparantely AMD will not only be able to boost IPC a bit (by 10% or more) but they may also significantly boost the clockspeed as we have learned from this ISSC paper: "a AMD’s 4+ GHz x86-64 core code-named “Piledriver” employs resonant clocking to reduce clock distribution power up to 24% while maintaining a low clock-skew target."

This should allow AMD to get higher clockspeeds within the same power envelope. Until then, it is the Xeon E5-2600 that rules the server world.

Compression and Encryption


View All Comments

  • dilidolo - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - link

    Link not working on first page - THE SPECS AND THE SKUS Reply
  • yvizel - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - link

    For some reason I cannot go beyond the first page... Reply
  • yvizel - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - link

    Second page, in the Intel table, the 2630 is listed as an eight core CPU.
    But then: "...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 heavy, slightly higher clocked cores with SMT..."
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - link

    Fixed, thanks for letting me know!

  • Assimilator87 - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - link

    Ah man, the 2630L error totally got my hopes up. 8 cores for $662 would be very reasonable. Reply
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  • Kjella - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - link

    ...just got bulldozed. And this isn't even on the 22nm 3D transistors they're launching next month, it's like they just got a dizzying punch and know the KO punch is coming. Reply
  • A5 - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - link

    It'll probably be awhile before the Ivy Bridge Xeons are out. Reply
  • Kjella - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - link

    Of course, I'm guessing Q1 2013 before we'll see those but we already know from all the leaked SB -> IB details roughly what SB-Xeon to IB-Xeon will be like. All AMD has on their roadmap for 2013 is the "Abu Dhabi" with the "Piledriver" core promising 10-15% performance boost but still on 32nm. So you can see the punch coming a year away, but I don't think AMD has the capability to do anything about it. Reply
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