Intel's Xeon E5-2600 V2: 12-core Ivy Bridge EP for Serversby Johan De Gelas on September 17, 2013 12:00 AM EST
Intel has again done a remarkably good job with the Xeon "Ivy Bridge EP". Adding more cores can easily lead to bad scaling or even to situations where performance decreases. The new Xeon E5 adds about 30% performance across the line, in more or less the same power envelope. Single-threaded performance does not suffer either (though it also fails to improve in most scenarios). Even better, Intel's newest CPU works inside the same socket as its predecessor. That's no small feat, as there have been changes in core count and uncore, and as a result the electrical characteristics change too.
At the end of last year, AMD was capable of mounting an attack on the midrange Xeons by introducing Opterons based on the "Piledriver" core. That core improved both performance and power consumption, and Opteron servers were tangibly cheaper. However, at the moment, AMD's Opteron is forced to leave the midrange market and is relegated to the budget market. Price cuts will once again be necessary.
Considering AMD's "transformed" technology strategy , we cannot help but be pessimistic about AMD's role in the midrange and high-end x86 server market. AMD's next step is nothing more than a somewhat tweaked "Opteron 6300". Besides the micro server market, only the Berlin CPU (4x Steamroller, integrated GPU) might be able to turn some heads in HPC and give Intel some competition in that space. Time will tell.
In other words, Intel does not have any competition whatsoever in the midrange and high-end x86 server market. The best Xeons are now about 20% more expensive, but that price increase is not tangible in most markets. The customers buying servers for ERP, OLTP and virtualization will not feel this, as a few hundred dollars more (or even a couple thousand) for the CPUs pales in comparison to the yearly software licenses. The HPC people will be less happy but many of them are spending their money on stream processors like the Xeon Phi, AMD Firestream, or NVIDIA Tesla. Even in the HPC market, the percentage of the budget spent on CPUs is decreasing.
Luckily, Intel still has to convince people that upgrading is well worth the trouble. As a result you get about 25% more multi-threaded/server performance, about 5-10% higher single-threaded performance (a small IPC boost and a 100MHz speed bump), and sligthly lower power consumption for the same price. It may not be enough for some IT departments, but those that need more performance within the same power envelope will probably find a lot to like with the new Xeons.