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Graphics cards & PC upgrades Reviews
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Intel Nehalem Xeon review

Depends on system

Manufacturer: Intel

The new Intel Nehalem Xeon CPUs, which are being introduced in countless one- and two-socket servers and workstations, have already generated a lot of heat.

The new Intel Nehalem Xeon CPUs, which are being introduced in countless one- and two-socket servers and workstations, have already generated a lot of heat.

Whoa Nehlly!

All of these features add up to a significant performance boost. How significant? In many of our tests, Nehalem runs roughly twice as fast as Intel Xeon 5300-based platforms, and 50 percent faster than Intel Xeon 5400-based systems in single-threaded operations. It's fast.

For example, in preliminary testing we used an HP ProLiant DL580 with four quad-core Intel Xeon X7350 CPUs running at 2.93GHz per core as a baseline. The Nehalem system was running two quad-core Intel Xeon W5580 CPUs at 3.2GHz per core with HyperThreading enabled.

The tests we ran were mostly single-threaded with the exception of the MySQL InnoDB database performance tests. However, the single-threaded tests were run in batches of 16 simultaneous tasks - thus, each test pass comprised 16 identical processes for each test scenario.

The tests included LAME audio encoding, gzip and bzip2 compression, and MD5 sum tests of large files. Note that the X7350 system had 16 physical cores and the Nehalem test system had only eight, represented as 16 virtual processors via HyperThreading.

Averaged across all tests, the Nehalem system was roughly 60 percent faster than the X7350-based server. For instance, the time required for the X7350 system to encode 16 identical 200MB WAV files to MP3 at 224Kbps was 77 seconds. The Nehalem system completed the task in 40 seconds.

The gzip tests showed the X7350 compressing the 16 resulting MP3 files in 6 seconds, while the Nehalem system completed the task in 2 seconds. For a single-thread test, we converted a 27MB MPEG-4 file to FLV (Flash Video) with MEncoder. The X7350 took 43 seconds at roughly 100 frames per second; the Nehalem took 27 seconds at roughly 163 frames per second.

The MySQL tests we ran were based on InnoDB using the mysql-bench test suite. This test runs a large number of concurrent database operations, including Select, Delete, Update, Insert, and so forth. The X7350 system completed all three tests in a total of 833 seconds, while the Nehalem system finished in 713 seconds.

NEXT PAGE: more per core...

Intel Nehalem Xeon Expert Verdict »

Based on a NUMA architecture
45nm Hi-k next generation Intel Core microarchitecture
quad-core layout
731 million transistors
256KB of L2 cache per core
8MB of L3 cache
memory bandwidth speeds: 25.6GBps per link or 6.4GT (Gigatransfers) per second with DDR3 RAM
RAM clocks run at 800MHz, 1,066MHz, or 1,333MHz
Virtualization Technology

Whatever the reasons and machinations behind the development of the Nehalem chip, and regardless of what the future will bring, the raw power Nehalem represents is simply stunning.

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