On Tuesday, I participated in a dinner event hosted by Intel and Prosys. It is always fantastic to meet new people in the area that have the same passion as me, in technology. It was, surprisingly, a small event. Only about a dozen people (not including the hosts), were there. Still, geek-talk and laughter filled the room.
Intel recently announced (March 6, 2012) it’s new Xeon E5-2600 family processor. Just another processor, right? Well, sort of. But the announcement was nothing short of enhancements. Early on, Intel realized that they can only push the limits of Physics so far, though, I’m sure they’ll figure out the whole wormhole/warp engines soon. Because of this, they started “enhancing” their processors with new technology to make them more useful. I’m going to go over some of those technologies here. Some are upgrades to existing Intel technologies, while others are new.
During the event, a gentleman from Dialysis Clinic, Inc (DCI) in Nashville asked a really great question. “We have servers already running Intel E7 processors….. what is the difference between E5 and E7”. The answer from Intel wasn’t very technical, but I walked away with “The E7 processor is when mission-critical systems require absolute stability, speed, and power”.
At the top of my list (I am a network geek, you know), is the enhancements to system I/O. It’s my understanding that right now, all I/O on a system goes through a dedicated chip on the motherboard. This basically “multiplexes” all the I/O requests to the processors for handling. Now, however, the I/O hub chip has been removed and now placed directly on the processor, giving devices (such as a network interface) direct access to the processor for a serious decrease in latency times (up to 30%).
Intel Data Direct I/O is another enhancement. These are Intel-branded controllers and adapters that can get processed by the processor directly, instead of being handled by main memory. As many of you know, L1/L2/LL Cache is far faster than main memory. Bypassing it means even faster responses.
Finally, the E5-2600 family chips also support PCI 3.0, which doubles the bandwidth per link.
For more information, view the quick intro video.
256-bit floating point
These processors have another Intel Technology called “AVX” or Advanced Vector Extensions. Prior to AVX, the processors could only execute 128-bit floating-point operations. With AVX, however, 256-bit operations can now be performed. This means that software can now execute twice as many mathematical operations in a single CPU cycle than before.
You can see the performance boost video here.
These processors can go up to 8-cores per processor. Why do I say “up to”? Well, there may be reasons why you want a 2- or 4-core processor. It does decrease the price per processor by limiting the number of cores, but it also gives you the flexibility to keep licensing costs down. Microsoft has already started a licensing model on a per-core unit, versus a per-physical processor unit.
Other items that are awesome, but I’m not going to go into detail here is:
- Turbo-boost – up to 80% performance increase giving you an extra 200-800Mhz boost in processing.
- Greater memory bandwidth
- 20MB cache on the processor
- AES Technology (Encryption at the hardware level) – AES Video
- TXT (Trusted Execution Technology) – TXT Video