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Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2 review: Ivy Bridge-EP for servers

Intel's latest generation server CPUs tested

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Introduction

Intel debuts a new generation processors for dual-socket servers at the Intel Developer Forum 2013 today. As the name already suggests, the Xeon E5-2600 v2 series, codenamed Ivy Bridge-EP, is the successor of the E5-2600 series. The new generation has more cores, better performance, faster memory access, and new virtualisation features. We compare the 12-core top-of-the-line Xeon E5-2697 v2 and the energy-efficient Xeon E5-2650L v2 to the previous generation, Sandy Bridge-EP.


This introduction obviously is closely related to the introduction of the new Core i7 Ivy Bridge-E processors for high-end desktops last week. That launch is particularly interesting for the server side of things. First, because the main improvements have to do with the energy consumption. For a personal desktop at home, this obviously isn't as interesting as it is for companies with racks filled with servers running 24/7. 

The name Xeon E5-2600 v2 actually is pretty aptly chosen, because the new CPUs are very similar compared to the previous generation. The new chips use the same Socket 2011 as their predecessors, work on the same platform, comply with existing TDP requirements, and can as such be implemented in existing servers. The only thing that's necessary is a BIOS update. As the architecture is largely the same, exactly the same software will run on the E5-2600 v2 as on the original E5-2600s.

And because no significant changes were made in the architecture, workloads that run well on existing Xeon E5-2600 systems will work as well or better on the new versions. That's good news for IT managers, saving them long and costly validation procedures. Intel sees the E5-2600 v2 clearly as a drop-in replacement: the same platform, but more powerful and more efficient. 

In the changing server market Intel primarily aims the E5-2600 v2 series at workloads that require a lot of CPU power: virtualisation, databases and high-performance computing for example. Then there's the higher-positioned E7 series that can scale up to much more than 4 sockets and contains various RAS features for mission critical systems. Positioned below the E5 there is the E3 for single-socket servers, along with a new series of server processors based on Atom technology, also introduced this week, codenamed Avoton. Intel aims those at the growing market of micro servers, where I/O-throughput and low energy consumption is often more important than CPU performance.


Summing up the main improvements of the E5-2600 v2 series. 


Two Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2 processors, the new flagship


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