Apr 192010

Last month Intel released their new line of enterprise-class x86 server processors, the Xeon 7500-series “Nehalem-EX” processors. This is very significant, as their existing enterprise x86 processors (7400-series) were getting quite old and were not particularly competitive. The new Xeons provide much higher computational performance, as well as many enhancements for reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS). They are immediately available in 4-socket configurations and will also be appearing in 8-socket configurations.

With a product this complex, it’s very difficult to cover every aspect of the new design. I will be focusing primarily on the performance of the new processors, with a particular focus on HPC as that is the market with which I’m most familiar.

To the best of my knowledge, the Xeon 7500s are some of the most diverse processors released under the same name. Their core counts range from 4 to 8, with clock speeds ranging from 1.87GHz to 2.67GHz and L3 cache ranging from 12MB to 24MB. This makes the decision of which processor to purchase more difficult than ever before, as one can’t easily determine which processor is “best”. You have to carefully evaluate your application and requirements, as well as the capabilities of each model.

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