Intel’s New Xeon E7 8800/4800 v3 Processor Family

by May 6, 2015 0 comments

With data centers flooded with data coming from myriad sources, the need for new hardware and services to analyse it for meaningful insights is only increasing by the day. Moreover, in an increasingly digitally tranformed and dependent world, businesses need to react quickly on insights from vast stores of data than even people moving out of their seats during the nasty earthquake tremors! Intel recently unveiled the latest in its range of processors for mission-critical enterprise server and heavy database applications such as Big Data analytics and IoT, called the Xeon E7-8800 / 4800 v3 family. Intel has simplified its product stack this time and so reduced the number of SKUs over the previous generation by 50%. All the 12 SKUs within this family are 22nm ‘Haswell’ chips and socket-compatible with the previous generation of Xeons. However, they offer a slew of enhancements in terms of the number of cores, the sockets they support, clock speeds and cache memory size. The 16 – 18 core Xeon E7-8800 series processors in the advanced stack all support up to an 8-socket configuration while the 8 – 14 core standard and basic SKUs only support up to 4 sockets.

The latest ‘tock’ in Intel’s processor cycle
The Xeon E7-8800 / 4800 v3 product family is a “tock” in Intel’s processor release cycle. Previous generation Xeon E7 v2 processors were based on the Ivy Bridge-EX core, while the new E7 v3 processors are based on Haswell-EX, both being manufactured on Intel’s 22nm process node. At the top end of the SKU stack, the Xeon E7-8890 v3 has 5.6 billion transistors with the following specs: 18 physical cores and 36 threads, base/boost clock speed of 2.5GHz/3.3GHz, 45MB of L3 cache and a TDP of 165W. The 8-core E7-4809 v3 is the lowest-power SKU at 115 watts, with the fewest number of cores. There is also an 18-core SKU targeted at HPC applications (the E7-8800L v3) with a similar TDP. Like the E5s they also support DDR3 and DDR4 memory but with a maximum addressable 12TB of RAM when used in an 8-socket system. Intel Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX) have been implemented to improve business app processing performance by 6x.

12 SKUs that constitute the E7 v3 family

ProcessorNumber of CoresTDP
Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-8890 v3 (45M Cache, 2.50 GHz)18165 W
Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-8880L v3 (45M Cache, 2.00 GHz)18115 W
Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-8880 v3 (45M Cache, 2.30 GHz)18150 W
Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-8870 v3 (45M Cache, 2.10 GHz)18140 W
Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-8867 v3 (45M Cache, 2.50 GHz)16165 W
Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-8860 v3 (40M Cache, 2.20 GHz)16140 W
Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-4850 v3 (35M Cache, 2.20 GHz)14115 W
Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-4830 v3 (30M Cache, 2.10 GHz)12115 W
Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-4820 v3 (25M Cache, 1.90 GHz)10115 W
Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-8891 v3 (45M Cache, 2.80 GHz)10165 W
Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-4809 v3 (20M Cache, 2.00 GHz)8115 W
Intel® Xeon® Processor E7-8893 v3 (45M Cache, 3.20 GHz)4140 W

Enhanced support for DDR3 and DDR4 memory technologies

The Xeon E7-8800 / 4800 v3 product families support both DDR3 and DDR4 memory technologies through the use of Intel’s C112 and C114 scalable memory buffers. These memory buffer boards and chips are offered in a couple of different configurations. The basic configuration supports up to 2 DIMMs per channel, while the advanced configuration ups that number to 3 DIMMs per channel. When paired to the advanced C114 scalable memory buffer, each socket in a Xeon E7 machine can address up to 1.5TB, so for an 8-socket system that equates to a maximum of 12TB.

Xeon E7-8800 / 4800 v3 series processors have 32-lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity per socket, TSX is enabled in all SKUs, they offer support for both DDR3 and DDR4 memory (though, not simultaneously), and can address up to 6TB of memory in a 4-socket configuration or 12TB in an 8-socket setup. Intel is also offering QPI speeds up to 9.6GT/s and has enhanced its Run Sure technologies with a second generation MCA recovery engine and enhanced features like address mirroring and rank sparing. With this new platform only a particular memory range can be mirrored, freeing more memory for the rest of the system. For real-time, big data analytics and other data-heavy enterprise applications, having more system memory is beneficial.

More dual-threaded cores and better performance than E7 v2
The processors have 20% more cores than the previous generation E7 v2, but they’ve also got 20% more last-level cache. And of course these are pin compatible with the E7 v2 series. The Xeon E7 v3 family is up 40% on performance over the v2 processors as shown by the benchmark tests conducted by Intel. But price could be a key parameter to look into before upgrading your servers. As of launch, the 12 SKUs that constitute the E7 v3 family are priced between $1,224 to $7,175 in the US. When queried about the TDPs for the highest SKUs having increased somewhat, Intel quickly pointed out that the chips have integrated voltage regulators, and as such some VREGs on compatible motherboards won’t be used. Therefore, the total platform power essentially remains the same.

Although it is clocked somewhat lower, the 18 core E7-8890 v3 outruns the 15 core E7-4890 v2 across the board in multi-threaded workloads. In single-threaded workloads, the equivalent low-clocked v3 parts offer somewhat lower performance since the application doesn’t take advantage of the enhanced capabilities of the v3 family. The performance-per-watt has also increased over the previous generation. As per the data provided by Intel, the E7-8890 v3 performed up to 33% better than the E7-4890 v2 in terms of performance-per-watt.

In conclusion, it suffices to state that Intel Xeon E7-8800 / 4800 series processors offer more cores, which are technically more advanced than the previous generation, within similar TDP ratings. They also introduce new Intel Run Sure improvements, fix TSX support and incorporate it across the entire line-up, and offer major bandwidth improvements thanks to their increased cache sizes and support for DDR4, among other architectural improvements. 17 system manufacturers from around the world will begin announcing Intel Xeon processor E7 v3 family-based platforms. These manufacturers include Bull, Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, Huawei, Inspur, Lenovo, NEC, Oracle, PowerLeade, Quanta, SGI, Sugon, Supermicro and ZTE.

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