Efficient and reliable, budget-friendly yet with boasting solid performance… these are words often used to describe the Xeon® E3 family of processors. Today, Intel® announces the launch of their much-anticipated third generation of E3 processors, codenamed ‘Haswell.’
Intel® Xeon® E3 V3 (version 3) CPUs are based on the new Haswell microarchitecture with a 22nm process and powerful integrated graphics to deliver competitive performance and performance per watt in handling workloads beyond entry level servers, workstations and microservers. Superior integrated graphics is one of the unique selling points of Haswell, with up to 18% better energy efficient performance and 38% better graphics performance compared to the previous generation Ivy Bridge. The other major highlight is the emphasis on low power consumption. The new set of processors includes the lowest power Xeon released to date at 13W.
Yet, Xeon E3 V3 CPUs don’t throw speed and performance out the window. Excluding the three targeted low-power processors, the base range of clock speeds goes from 3.1 GHz to 3.6GHz, with the turbo frequency reaching as high as 4 GHz. Servers powered by these CPUs have more than enough to keep up with demanding workloads when necessary. Other features include additional USB 3.0 and SATA 6G ports for increased I/O bandwidth, hardware accelerated media encode and decode, an enhanced suite of security features, and more.
Our server solutions utilizing Xeon E3 V3 processors are targeting four main areas / applications:
- Low Power Microservers
- Graphics – Workstation form factor
- Next Gen Web Graphics – Server form factor
Low Power Microservers
Microservers refer to smaller server nodes typically comprising a larger server unit. As an emerging form factor in a world of continually increasing energy costs, microservers address the issue of power consumption through density, resource sharing, and low power CPUs that provide “right-sized processing” for workloads.
The new generation of Intel Xeon E3-1200 processors introduces two low power solutions uniquely designed for microservers:
- A 25W CPU, which delivers up to 52% performance per watt advantage over the previous generation 45W CPU
- The lowest power Xeon ever at 13W
These two CPUs, coupled with the standard 45W low-power offering from last generation, deliver an ideal balance of compute and density-enabling performance.
All of the energy-efficient and low-power features outlined above also make the Haswell processors ideal for hosting servers. Intel Xeon E3s have consistently been the processor of choice for hosting companies due to their energy efficiency, reliability and great price point. Hosting providers, perhaps more so than others in nearly every other vertical, are extremely conscious of their level of power consumption and the costs associated with it. The low power 13W Xeon processor, the greatly enhanced performance of the 25W CPU, and the consistent reliability of the Xeon E3 family as a whole make Haswell a great option.
One of the primary advantages of low-power solutions is the ability to deploy large volumes of them at relatively lower proportional cost. This is ideal in hosting applications where scale and redundancy is more important than straight-up computing power per server. This is a great benefit for companies providing cloud-based services which call for greater quantities of high-density energy-efficient systems – even more important in light of a growing data demand from mobile devices.
Finally, the new processors have a number of security features. Hardware-based security features like Intel® Platform Protection Technology provides OS Guard and BIOS Guard helps protect against malware & DDOS attacks.
One of the biggest highlights of the new Xeon E3 V3 CPUs, as mentioned previously, is the significant performance improvement in integrated graphics. Many criticized Intel when they initially launched “Intel HD Graphics” as barely useful for only the most basic graphics applications. Now, equipped with HD Graphics P4600, Intel CPUs are finally able to hold their own competitive spot in the marketplace against some entry level dedicated cards.
HD Graphics P4600 increases the execution unit count from 16 (Ivy Bridge) to 20 (Haswell), yielding 38% improvement in professional graphics. The value proposition for the entry-workstation market is that those people who run lower to mid-tier graphic-intensive applications can save money by utilizing the integrated HD graphics in the Haswell CPU to get comparable performance to an entry-level external graphics card without having to spend the extra money on that external card. For a price-sensitive workstation user, a couple hundred dollars could be saved or used to purchase SSDs or other equipment to increase their daily productivity.
Finally, another major change with the new graphics is the way it handles displays. In addition to supporting up to 3 independent displays via HDMI 1.4, DVI, DP, and VGA, Haswell has introduces something called “digital display repartition” which allows digital display outputs to be wired directly to the CPU socket, ensuring there is no performance bottleneck with higher resolution digital displays. (Analog displays are handled with a converter in platform controller hub (PCH) to which a digital signal is sent).
Next Gen Server Graphics
The improvement in graphics isn’t limited to workstations… server graphics are perhaps one of the most notable aspects of the new Xeon E3 V3 processors.
One of the areas we are targeting with our Haswell-powered servers is data center graphics. Whereas the workstations use P4600, processors geared for server graphics utilize P4700. There are three primary areas of use that take advantage of the graphics capabilities of the new Haswell CPUs:
- Media servers
- Cloud gaming
- Desktop virtualization
Media servers primarily deal with the support and delivery of video content and video analytics. Handling video content involves processing and streaming the media in the cloud before delivering it to end users. Examples of this include Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc. On the other hand, video analytics involves performing research or analytical work on the media: e.g. looking for a face or a license plate in the raw footage captured by city-wide close circuit cameras. This is a big deal for solution providers who work in industries such as video surveillance.
The wide range of applications includes:
- Mobile video and TV
- Movies, TV shows, end user created contents on demand
- Live and subsequent broadcast to devices anywhere
- Global access to local video content worldwide
- Media / ad broadcast
- Advertisement on digital signage, managed and updated by remote server
- Automatic ad insertion between scenes on live TV or news / info update
- Video enhanced online shopping
- Cloud-based video conferencing
- Cloud-based media services (storage, sharing, etc.)
Cloud gaming and desktop virtualization are similar to each other in that both involve both hosting and rendering (games or desktops) on a server and streaming (apps or desktop images) to clients connected remotely in the form of an interactive video. Like media, cloud gaming is becoming more and more prominent, particularly with the prominence of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) and social networking sites. Desktop virtualization is implemented in a variety of different environments: e.g. distributed environments with high availability requirements and where desk-side technical support is not readily available (branch office and retail environments), or environments where high network latency could adversely affect client / server application performance.
ICC’s data center graphics server solutions utilizing Haswell CPUs can support more HD transcodes concurrently per rack than some discrete graphics solutions. In one case a Xeon E3-1285L V3 performed 25% more transcodes than a system with a Xeon E5 and 2x nVIDIA GTX 680.
Build and Configure Today!
Here is a sampling of our new NovaServ V2 server systems, powered by Intel Xeon E3-1200 V3 Haswell processors:
1U Form Factor
1xE3-1200 V3 CPU
32GB DDR3 Memory
2×3.5″ Drive Bays
200W Power Supply
2U / E3v3 CPU / 32GB RAM
12×3.5″ Hot-Swap Drives
Redundant 1200W PS
6GbS SAS Expander (Opt.)
Dual Expander Chip (Opt.)
4U / E3v3 CPU / 32GB RAM
24×3.5″ Hot-Swap Drives
Redundant 1200W PS
6GbS SAS Expander (Opt.)
Dual Expander Chip (Opt.)