The stellar performance of the Xeons based on the Nehalem and Westmere architectures had a dark side for Intel: it cast a big shadow on Intel's top of the line Xeon 7400 series. You can talk about RAS features all you want but when a dual-CPU configuration outperforms quad-CPU configurations of your top-of-the-line CPU, something is wrong. And if this happens in the applications the latter is supposed to excel in, something is very wrong. SAP, OLTP, and other high-end server workloads are the workloads that are supposed to run better on the most expensive Xeon, not on the "popular" Xeon. Even worse, the AMD six-core 8000 series outperforms Intel's Xeon X7460 by a large margin as of several months ago. Quad dodeca-CPU servers will start to pop up in the shops of several tier-one OEMs any moment now, so Intel's new Xeon EX has a serious challenge.

Intel emphasizes that its Xeon X7500 series plays in a higher league than the competition from Austin. The mission of the X7560 is to beat the RISC chips. That's not a bad strategy, as the RISC server buyers are used to paying a lot more for their servers. For example, a very basic IBM Power 7 configuration startsat $34000. Intel created an octal-core 16-thread giant based on the successful Nehalem architecture. To fit in with the other RISC monsters the CPU also comes with a massive L3 cache (24MB) and a bucket load of RAS features.

On the lower-end of the targeted high-end server market, the market where x86 traditionally did well, Intel is going to get fierce completion. AMD's latest 2.2GHz twelve-core 6174 comes with a price tag of $1165, regardless of whether the server features two or four sockets. Intel however expects the server manufacturers to cough up to $3692 for a 2.26GHz X7460. It's clear that both competitors are targeting a different market.

AMD is going after the cost conscious HPC/virtualization market, offering the best price/performance and performance/watt. Intel has no intention to compete on price/performance. It targets the higher-end market where software license costs are more important than the hardware, where downtime is so costly that people are willing to pay a premium for extra reliability features, and/or where the performance demands are extremely high. Intel's objective is to offer better performance than RISC vendors with similar RAS features at a lower price point. Up to 64 cores (8x8) and 128 threads and 512GB RAM can be found in a single Xeon 7500 series machine, so scalability should be quite impressive. For those who need RAS features but have no need for high performance, Intel offers the Xeon 6000 series. In this article we take a closer look at one of the most affordable Xeon 7500/6500, the Dell R810.

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  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    "Damn, Dell cut half the memory channels from the R810!"

    You read too fast again :-). Only in Quad CPU config. In dual CPU config, you get 4 memory controllers, which connect each two SMBs. So in a dual Config, you get the same bandwidth as you would in another server.

    The R810 targets those that are not after the highest CPU processing power, but want the RAS features and 32 DIMM slots. AFAIK,
  • whatever1951 - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    2 channels of DDR3-1066 per socket in a fully populated R810 and if you populate 2 sockets, you get the flex memory routing penalty...damn..............!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! R810 sucks.
  • Sindarin - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    whatever1951 you lost me @ Hello.........................and I thought Sauron was tough!! lol
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    "It is hard to imagine 4 channels of DDR3-1066 to be 1/3 slower than even the westmere-eps."

    On one side you have a parallel half duplex DDR-3 DIMM. On the other side of the SMB you have a serial full duplex SMI. The buffers might not perform this transition fast enough, and there has to be some overhead. I also am still searching for the clockspeed of the IMC. The SMIs are on a different (I/O) clockdomain than the L3-cache.

    We will test with Intel's / QSSC quad CPU to see whether the flexmem bridge has any influence. But I don't think it will do much. You might add a bit of latency, but essentially the R810 is working like a dual CPU with four IMCs just like another (Dual CPU) Nehalem EX server system would.
  • whatever1951 - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the useful info. R810 then doesn't meet my standard.

    Johan, is there anyway you can get your hands on a R910 4 Processor system from Dell and bench the memory bandwidth to see how much that flex mem chip costs in terms of bandwidth?
  • IntelUser2000 - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    The Uncore of the X7560 runs at 2.4GHz.
  • JohanAnandtech - Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - link

    Do you have a source for that? Must have missed it.
  • Etern205 - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    I think AT needs to fix this "RE:RE:RE...:" problem?
  • amalinov - Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - link

    Great article! I like the way in witch you describe the memory subsystem - I have readed the Intel datasheets and many news articles about Xeon 7500, but your description is the best so far.

    You say "So each CPU has two memory interfaces that connect to two SMBs that can each drive two channels with two DIMMS. Thus, each CPU supports eight registered DDR3 DIMMs ...", but if I do the math it seems: 2 SMIs x 2 SMBs x 2 channels x 2 DIMMs = 16 DDR3 DIMMs, not 8 as written in the second sentence. Later in the article I think you mention 16 at different places, so it seems it is realy 16 and not 8.

    What about Itanium 9300 review (including general background on the plans of OEMs/Intel for IA-64 platform)? Comparision of scalability(HT/QPI)/memory/RAS features of Xeon 7500, Itanium 9300 and Opteron 6000 would be welcome. Also I would like to see a performance comparision with appropriate applications for the RISC mainframe market (HPC?) with 4- and 8-socket AMD, Intel Xeon, Intel Itanium, POWER7, newest SPARC.
  • jeha - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    You really should review the IBM 3850 X5 I think?

    They have some interesting solutions when it comes to handling memory expansions etc.

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