Intel lets loose Kaby Lake-based Xeon E3 v6 processors

— 4:58 PM on March 28, 2017

We love our Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs around here, particularly when it comes to gaming, but not everyone has time for such frivolity. Workstation users have a different set of processing needs, usually revolving around a stable platform, ECC memory, and certified drivers. That's where the Intel's Xeon E3 v6 family of Kaby Lake-based CPUs come in.

The updated lineup contains a total of eight models, ranging from the humble-ish Xeon E3-1220 v6 with its four cores and clock speed up to 3.5 GHz, up to the mighty Xeon E3-1280 v6 and its four cores, eight threads, and turbo clocks up to 4.2 GHz. The TDP for all the CPUs in the family hovers around 72W, and the amount of cache is likewise the same for all models, at 8MB. Intel says the new models support ECC RAM in amounts up to 64GB and speeds up to DDR4-2400. Owners of existing setups with DDR3L RAM need not worry—that's supported, too. Seeing as the new Xeons are based on the Kaby Lake architecture, 10-bit HEVC encoding and decoding is on the menu, too.

Like you'd expect from workstation-grade processors, the Xeon E3 v6s support all the alphabet-soup virtualization technologies: TSX-NI, vPro, VT-d, and VT-x. Those concerned with system security will be happy to know that the whole host of security features (including AES-NI, SGX, Trusted Execution, and OS Guard) are all supported, too. Here's a full list of the models:

Model Cores Threads Base clock Turbo clock IGP Price
Xeon E3-1280 v6 4 8 3.9 GHz 4.2 GHz - $612
Xeon E3-1275 v6 4 8 3.8 GHz 4.2 GHz Yes $339
Xeon E3-1270 v6 4 8 3.8 GHz 4.2 GHz - $328
Xeon E3-1245 v6 4 8 3.7 GHz 4.1 GHz Yes $284
Xeon E3-1240 v6 4 8 3.7 GHz 4.1 GHz - $272
Xeon E3-1230 v6 4 8 3.5 GHz 3.9 GHz - $250
Xeon E3-1225 v6 4 4 3.3 GHz 3.7 GHz Yes $213
Xeon E3-1220 v6 4 4 3.0 GHz 3.5 GHz - $193

The three models whose number ends in a 5 (E3-1225, E3-1245, and E3-1275) all pack Intel's spankin' HD Graphics 630 IGP. The company claims that when armed with this IGP, "designers may no longer need a discrete graphics card for some of the most commonly-used workloads." According to Intel, the IGP in the E3-1275 v6 CPU should offer three times the performance as the one in the old E3-1275 v2 when measured with SPEC graphics tools. The company also says that chips with these P630 IGPs are up to the task of "entry professional VR," among other pro applications. The P630 graphics driver is certified for use with multiple pro applications, too.

The general theme seems to be one of upgrading the CPU rather than replacing an entire machine, given that the Xeon E3 v6 processors still go into Socket 1151, have dual-channel memory controllers, and will fit existing motherboards with C232 and C236 chipsets, likely only at the cost of a BIOS update. Those looking to make use of the P630 IGP will need the higher-end C236, though. As a recap, when compared to the C232, the C236 chipset has IGP support, 20 lanes of PCIe 3.0 instead of eight, and support for Intel Active Management Technology, Node Manager, and Rapid Storage Technology features. The new CPUs should be available to OEMs right away.

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