Intel's Haswell Xeon E5-2600 V3: The New Server Solution?

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At the end of August 2014, Intel took the wraps off its Haswell-E line of CPUs, a significant upgrade over last year’s Haswell thanks to a focus on sheer throughput and performance. Now, the chipmaker is rolling out the Xeon E5-2600 V3: here’s why you should take a look at this new CPU.

 The Workhorse, Revisited

Intel’s E5 lineup has traditionally been the backbone of large-scale server systems, falling between the mainstream E3 desktop line and the mission-critical E7s. Since Intel already had competitor AMD on the ropes, they could have released a minimal upgrade to this popular server backbone with little to no backlash, but according to Tom’s IT Pro, the new processors are “a keystone component of an overall data center strategy designed to address today’s enterprise and cloud IT trends.” In other words, Intel is looking at the long game with its new Haswell-E and Xeon E5 lineup — the workhorse is getting new shoes.

What’s the Big Deal?

 There are several features that set the Xeon E5-2600 V3 apart from its V2 predecessor. First is the upgrade from 12 to 18 cores, along with voltage regulation circuitry placed on-package instead of residing on the motherboard. V3 also supports DDR4 RAM, which right now means lower power draw, but as more applications are designed to take advantage of this, memory will also mean improved throughput.

Tom’s Hardware also points out the high volume of SKUs associated with the Xeon E5-2600. At launch, expect 22 general purpose SKUs based on three dies, all of which can be customized to suit consumer needs; already, Intel has designed custom SKUs for large corporations like EMC and NetApp. The big takeaway? According to Maximum PC, that V3 could offer up to a threefold performance increase over V2.

Choices, Choices

The E5-2600 is launching with three “segments,” each designed for a specific market. The Basic segment features low-cost, 6-core processors that top out at 85 watts TDP. They’re ideal for storage appliances where CPU demands are relatively low. Standard segment options include Turbo Boost and Hyperthreading, along with DDR4 running at 1866 MHz, ideal for bare metal servers — at 85 to 90 watts, this is easy to cool in a rack environment. Finally, the Advanced V3 segment gives access to full-speed DDR4, higher TPDs at 105 to 136 watts and up to 2.6 GHz base clock speeds. More intense processing environments such as cloud platforms or virtual machines (VMs) are well served by this segment.

Server Life

Is upgrading to a Xeon E5-2600 V3 worth it? In many cases, yes. The new Xeon architecture isn’t compatible with older-model Intel CPUs, so if you have a server near its end-of-life, now is the time to consider a V3 upgrade. The same is true if your existing racks are falling behind the curve — Intel’s new focus is on pure performance over cool stacks or extended lifespans.

Excited about the E5-2600 V3? Get in touch and let’s get started.