Intel Xeon E7 v4 family blends high performance and high density

Intel is flexing its big guns with its Xeon E7 v4 series. With up to 24 cores and 60 MB of L3 cache per chip, these Broadwell-EX CPUs represent the largest chips crafted using that microarchitecture.

The new E7s are more or less an even larger version of the Xeon E5 v4 series we talked about two months ago. They're built on the same 14nm process, using fundamentally the same Broadwell CPU cores that debuted in the original Core M back in late 2014 (although these chips are a far cry from a 4.5W tablet CPU). For now, the series comprises eleven processors: four processors in the E7-4800 v4 family and seven processors in the E7-8800 v4 family.

For those unfamiliar with the nomenclature, the E7-4800 v4 chips support four-socket configurations, while the E7-8800 v4 family supports eight-socket setups. The E7-4800s "only" go up to 16 cores, while the top-end model of the family, the E7-8890 v4, sports 24 cores and 60MB of last-level cache. Core counts range from two dozen all the way down to just 4 cores on the E7-8893 v4—which still has the full 60MB of cache. The new chips will drop right into existing E7 v3 systems.

Clock rates in the series (aside from the quad-core E7-8893 v4) vary between 2 GHz to 2.4 GHz base, and 3GHz to 3.5GHz Turbo speeds. Overall, that's similar to the Xeon E7 v3 series, which is impressive given that Intel has managed to pack as many as six more cores into the same power budget. TDP on the new Xeons starts at 115W and ranges up to 165W on the top-end.

Arguably the biggest news with this launch is that per-node memory capacity has doubled versus the E7 v3 family, to 3TB per socket. This brings the total amount of memory supported in an 8-socket system to 24TB. Achieving that configuration requires the use of three-dimensionally-stacked load-reduced DIMMs (3DS LRDIMM), which are newly-supported on Broadwell-EX. Intel says the new processors are designed for configurations up to 256 sockets, which nets 768TB of RAM in theory. 

Hardware this heavy is decidedly not for the mass market. Intel is targeting this series of Xeons at enterprise-level real-time analytics and big data, applications that can make use of the massive memory capacity and monstrous multi-core performance. The press materials make direct comparisons to IBM's Power8 series, and claim 1.4x performance and ten times better performance per dollar versus Big Blue's offering. According to Intel, the new chips are already available in 64-socket configurations from OEMs.

Comments closed
    • Krogoth
    • 3 years ago

    FYI, these chips are not electrically compatibility with most Socket 2011 boards out there. They need “C6xx” platform in other to work and older C6xx boards may require an EFI update. Thankfully, they will just not POST on non-C6xx boards instead of getting fried.

      • the
      • 3 years ago

      There are actually three difference versions of socket 2011, the first one with DDR3 launched with Sandy Bridge-E/EP, 2011-1 launched with Ivy Bridge-EX (which these Broadwell-EX chips use) and 2011-3 which was released with Haswell-E/EP.

        • Krogoth
        • 3 years ago

        They are keyed differently through.

    • dikowexeyu
    • 3 years ago

    24 cores is what the desktop should be getting now for 600$ instead of 10 cores for 1700$.

    Hate Intel and despise AMD.

      • Krogoth
      • 3 years ago

      That’s not the reality of the markets. The mainstream crowd have no use for such chips. The only customers that care about such chips are prosumers and professionals. They are more then willing to pay for current prices.

    • UberGerbil
    • 3 years ago

    You know, for all the people complaining about the deca-core Broadwell E i7-6950X at $1729, here’s a quad-core with 60MB of cache for a low low price of… $6841. You do get ECC support, though.

      • jihadjoe
      • 3 years ago

      5775C taught us that it’s all about the [s<]cash[/s<] cache.

        • Krogoth
        • 3 years ago

        Cache is nice but it is completely depended on applications in questions. Even the “L4” cache on 57775C was only useful for certain stuff (mainly prosumer stuff and demanding games) while it did little to nothing on other applications.

      • Krogoth
      • 3 years ago

      That’s from a combination of market demand and yields. It is not cheap to fab “perfect” silicon dies of that size. The bulk of them are “rejects” that get binned down.

        • the
        • 3 years ago

        The v4 Xeons are notably smaller dies than their v3 predecessors. The largest v3 was over 600 mm^2 where as the largest v4 is around 450 mm^2 despite the increase in core count. Moving to a 14 nm process here helps a lot.

        However, the quad core part with 60 MB of L3 cache gets its high price by allowing customers to get the highest possible single threaded performance while maintaining low software licensing costs. The four $6841 chips are cheap compared to the [url=http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/pricing/technology-price-list-070617.pdf<]~$391,000 whole sale price[/url<] for Oracle Enterprise edition to run on it.

          • Krogoth
          • 3 years ago

          Smaller != easier or cheaper to fab

          They are still the largest pieces of 14nm silicon that Intel is fabing at this time.

      • qasdfdsaq
      • 3 years ago

      Two big fails in your argument – firstly, deca-core Broadwell E(P) Xeons, which use the same die as the i7 X’s, are as little as $612.00

      You also forget the point of E7’s isn’t core counts, it’s the additional RAS features for mission critical systems. Features like the ability to yank out an entire CPU or memory stick from a machine without crashing the whole system. Features that make your RAM hundreds of times more reliable than ECC RAM. Features to allow scalability to hundreds of cores and hundreds of terabytes of RAM in a single address space. Features for when you need to guarantee your multi-million dollar trading transactions are handled absolutely perfectly every time with zero chance of error.

      If you really want to compare prices with the Broadwell-E you should be comparing the Xeon E5s which are actually equivalent chips (The HEDT has a few features disabled but otherwise are identical dies). The E7’s are a completely different “If you have to ask how much it costs, you shouldn’t even be thinking about it” class.

        • UberGerbil
        • 3 years ago

        The two big fails for you are that (1) you think I’m making an “argument” and (2) that I’m serious.

    • the
    • 3 years ago

    If the previous Intel chips are any indication, these E7 chips use the same die as the E5 but in a slightly different packaging to support the memory buffers. The nice thing is that using these memory buffers enable this chips to be used with older DDR3 memory (though this maybe no longer be supported config like it was on the v3’s). Similarly, I’m curious if the increase in memory capacity also requires new memory buffers along side the CPU. If so, could these memory buffers be used with Haswell-EX to extend the same memory capacity? The one nice thing about these EX systems is that the memory buffer is typically (but certainly not always) located on a daughter card with the DIMM slots.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 3 years ago

      ARK does list DDR3 support for the new chips.

      • Krogoth
      • 3 years ago

      Broadwell-EP only supports DDR3L and DDR4 DIMMs. They are not compatible with normal DDR3 DIMMs. Intel changed the memory controller on the chip and added more QPI links (for four sockets) and cache pool is also different.

      They are really just “beta-testing” DDR4 for the upcoming “Skylake” successors which is coming with a whole new LGA socket.

        • the
        • 3 years ago

        The EP chips don’t use the memory buffer though. That is a feature exclusive to the EX line up to increase raw memory capacity and allows the memory type to be abstracted. Essentially the memory buffers follow the same principle as FB-DIMMs but place the buffer chip on the motherboard.

    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    Hey, I thought it is beyond Intel to compare their stuff with other companies’ stuff? Shame, shame.

    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    Just 24 cores? Meh. Zen will have 32 cores.

    /snooty

      • ImSpartacus
      • 3 years ago

      I fear for Intel these days. Amd’s zen is really going for the jugular. We all know that core count is literally the most important thing in a given cpu.

      I hope Intel makes it through 2016. Competition is so important and no one would want to see them go.

        • ronch
        • 3 years ago

        Yep. My 4.0GHz 8-core FX totally pummelled the 3770K when I bought it. And it was far cheaper too! I don’t know why people got the 3770K at all!

          • Srsly_Bro
          • 3 years ago

          And at the times the power consumption.

            • jihadjoe
            • 3 years ago

            And the heating! I spent many a cozy winter day with my trusty old P4 mid-tower nestled under my desk, warming up my feet.

      • the
      • 3 years ago

      No word on when Zen will arrive for servers. It could be put up against Sky Lake-EX which could also ship with 32 cores. It won’t just be performance Zen will be up against as Sky Lake-EX brings alot more features to the platform like AVX 512 instructions and 3D Xpoint DIMM support.

        • ronch
        • 3 years ago

        AMD minion: “Madam, how many cores shall we put in our Zen-based server chip?”

        Lisa: “We don’t know exactly when Zen will be ready so we might as well put in as many cores as humanely possible so it’ll stand a better chance against intel when it comes out, whenever that’ll be. 32 is good”

        AMD minion: <evil grin, rubs hands together> “Yes!!! 32 is good!!!”

      • Deanjo
      • 3 years ago

      Really? Just 32? I run 64-bit systems, I want a core per bit dammit!

        • Ninjitsu
        • 3 years ago

        Go with Xeon Phi!

        • ronch
        • 3 years ago

        I’m sure Zen will come out in several multi-socket flavors.

    • chuckula
    • 3 years ago

    OMG WHY HASN’T TR POSTED ITS REVIEW YET!!

    :-p

      • DancinJack
      • 3 years ago

      More seriously, TR was never about the Xeon reviews and I always wished they were.

        • Krogoth
        • 3 years ago

        Because Xeons and Opterons have traditionally been in the realm of professionals and enterprise markets. The majority of PC enthusiast don’t run the kind of workloads that take advantage of those cores or need a crap ton of sockets and DIMM slots.

        The “new” high-end desktop market has essentially become the dumping ground for “failed” Xeons and Opterons.

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 3 years ago

      Anandtech does some great Xeon reviews.

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