We won’t lie, things are getting crazy again in the CPU world. While we wait to see what Big Red is going to bring to the table with Zen Intel drops a high-performance refresh of the Broadwell Xeon line on our laps.
Although it was actually launched in Q1 of this year, getting your hands on one may not have been that easy and with a RRP of $4115 you can bet that most customers have been core-hungry data centers.
Now however we are starting to see more workstation-class computers get the chip and have a better idea of what it offers the professional computing customer.
The 22-core Broadwell-EP part is the E5-2699 v4. This monstrous component is based on a 14nm process and can be used in dual socket motherboards. This means that you can have 44 physical cores and 88 threads, if you are willing to fork out in excess of $8000 just for the CPUs alone.
Other crazy numbers that go paired with this processor include 55MB of Smart Cache and a very frugal TDP of 145W. Per core performance is also up by a bit, but from what we’ve seen so far you are not likely to see double digit percentage improvements when comparing cores to cores. The main appeal of the Xeon is higher core count and excellent power to performance ratios. Of course, the preceding Broadwell chips were no slouches in the per-core performance stakes, so we can’t complain too much.
The base frequency of the CPU is 2.2Ghz and the turbo clock is 3.6Ghz, which is one of the largest deltas we’ve seen. This makes sense though since many applications with little or no threadability will perhaps use only two, four or eight threads. Leaving most of the CPU idle.
Presumably this is when it will clock up to 3.6Ghz, but when all 44 threads are used you’ll see the lower number. It does beg the question of whether you can get a decent turbo speed when using an efficient cooling solution.
As a drop-in replacement for an existing machine running the previous high end Xeon this looks to provide a tangible performance boost for application that can make use of the eight extra threads. Is that additional performance worth shelling out for a $4000 upgrade? Probably not, but if you are building a new system and want the best then this is what that looks like. At least until the Skylake-based Xeons are released.
Rumours are that a 32-core AMD Zen chip may soon be on the table, but given the per-core disadvantage it is likely to have it may only or not quite match the 22 Broadwell cores. Still, that would be an amazing turnaround for AMD, especially if they can offer it at significantly less than Intel’s asking price.
The bottom line is, if you are running an 18-core Xeon, this is probably not worth the upgrade. If you are building new, this is the apex and it probably isn’t worth waiting for Zen unless you can’t afford the Xeon now.
The following Titan Computers models can be configured with this CPU: