Next Stop: the Uncore

Continuing with our review of Haswell architecture, let's again take a step back and use the Xeon 5500 as our reference point. The Xeon 5500 is based on the "Nehalem" architecture, and it helped Intel become dominant in the server market. Before the Xeon 5500, AMD's Opteron was still able to outperform the Xeons in quite a few applications (HPC and virtualization for example), even by significant margins. That changed with Nehalem, so the Xeon 5500 is a good reference point.

7-zip Benchmark – Single Threaded

The 27% cumultative IPC (integer only) improvement of Haswell mentioned is more than just theory: Anand's review of the desktop Haswell CPUs confirmed this. The Haswell Core i7-4770k at the same clock speed is about 21% faster than Nehalem. Now that is below the promised 27% performance increase, but 7-zip is among the applications known to have very low IPC.

Let's go back to the server world. Instead of increasing the clock speeds, clock speeds have declined from 2.93-3.2GHz (Xeon 5500) to 2.3-2.6GHz for the latest high-end parts. However, when Turbo Boost is enabled, 2.8 – 3.1GHz is possible with all cores active. So the clock speed of the high end server CPUs is actually 5 to 20% lower and not 10% higher as in the desktop space. The gains Intel has made in IPC are thus partly negated by slightly lower clock speeds.

Clock speed has clearly been traded in for more cores in most of server SKUs. But the additional cores can prove extremely useful. The SAP S&D application – one of the best industry benchmarks – runs about three times faster (see further) on the latest Xeon E5-2699 v3 than on the Xeon 5500.

This clearly puts into perspective how important the uncore part is for Xeons. The uncore parts makes the difference between a CPU that is only good at running a few handpicked benchmarks (like SPECint rate) but fails to achieve much in real applications, vs. an attractive product that can lower the IT costs by running more virtual machines and offering services to more users.

Refresher: the Haswell Core The Magic Inside the Uncore
POST A COMMENT

85 Comments

View All Comments

  • martinpw - Monday, September 8, 2014 - link

    There is a nice tool called i7z (can google it). You need to run it as root to get the live CPU clock display. Reply
  • kepstin - Monday, September 8, 2014 - link

    Most Linux distributions provide a tool called "turbostat" which prints statistical summaries of real clock speeds and c state usage on Intel cpus. Reply
  • kepstin - Monday, September 8, 2014 - link

    Note that if turbostat is missing or too old (doesn't support your cpu), you can build it yourself pretty quick - grab the latest linux kernel source, cd to tools/power/x86/turbostat, and type 'make'. It'll build the tool in the current directory. Reply
  • julianb - Monday, September 8, 2014 - link

    Finally the e5-xxx v3s have arrived. I too can't wait for the Cinebench and 3DS Max benchmark results.
    Any idea if now that they are out the e5-xxxx v2s will drop down in price?
    Or Intel doesn't do that...
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    Correct, Intel does not really lower prices of older CPUs. They just gradually phase out. Reply
  • tromp - Monday, September 8, 2014 - link

    As an additional test of the latency of the DRAM subsystem, could you please run the "make speedup" scaling benchmark of my Cuckoo Cycle proof-of-work system at https://github.com/tromp/cuckoo ?
    That will show if 72 threads (2 cpus with 18 hyperthreaded cores) suffice to saturate the DRAM subsystem with random accesses.

    -John
    Reply
  • Hulk - Monday, September 8, 2014 - link

    I know this is not the workload these parts are designed for, but just for kicks I'd love to see some media encoding/video editing apps tested. Just to see what this thing can do with a well coded mainstream application. Or to see where the apps fades out core-wise. Reply
  • Assimilator87 - Monday, September 8, 2014 - link

    Someone benchmark F@H bigadv on these, stat! Reply
  • iwod - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    I am looking forward to 16 Core Native Die, 14nm Broadwell Next year, and DDR4 is matured with much better pricing. Reply
  • Brutalizer - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    Yawn, the new upcoming SPARC M7 cpu has 32 cores. SPARC has had 16 cores for ages. Since some generations back, the SPARC cores are able to dedicate all resources to one thread if need be. This way the SPARC core can have one very strong thread, or massive throughput (many threads). The SPARC M7 cpu is 10 billion transistors:
    http://www.enterprisetech.com/2014/08/13/oracle-cr...
    and it will be 3-4x faster than the current SPARC M6 (12 cores, 96 threads) which holds several world records today. The largest SPARC M7 server will have 32-sockets, 1024 cores, 64TB RAM and 8.192 threads. One SPARC M7 cpu will be as fast as an entire Sunfire 25K. :)

    The largest Xeon E5 server will top out at 4-sockets probably. I think the Xeon E7 cpus top out at 8-socket servers. So, if you need massive RAM (more than 10TB) and massive performance, you need to venture into Unix server territory, such as SPARC or POWER. Only they have 32-socket servers capable of reaching the highest performance.

    Of course, the SGI Altix/UV2000 servers have 10.000s of cores and 100TBs of RAM, but they are clusters, like a tiny supercomputer. Only doing HPC number crunching workloads. You will never find these large Linux clusters run SAP Enterprise workloads, there are no such SAP benchmarks, because clusters suck at non HPC workloads.

    -Clusters are typically serving one user who picks which workload to run for the next days. All SGI benchmarks are HPC, not a single Enterprise benchmark exist for instance SAP or other Enterprise systems. They serve one user.

    -Large SMP servers with as many as 32 sockets (or even 64-sockets!!!) are typically serving thousands of users, running Enterprise business workloads, such as SAP. They serve thousands of users.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now