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Intel Xeon E5-2687W in Asus Z9PE-D8 WS dual CPU workstation review

Wed Mar 21 2012, 14:26

Linpack floating point benchmark
Finally, we come to the favourite all-out full load floating point benchmark, the Linpack linear algebra simulation. Used for the TOP500 supercomputer worldwide ranking, this monster benchmark tends to use the CPU 100 per cent during its run, often exceeding the TDP limits. And, it should never be run with multi-threading or HT turned on. See this example:

linpacke5Having the multi-threading CPU setting turned on halves the performance here, and reducing the size of the blocks improved the performance a further few per cent. So, we go from 178 to 347 to 352 GFLOPs total for the system, not bad at all.

In summary, this is a lovely system - a combination of superb CPUs in both compute and bandwidth aspects, and a well tunable, feature rich board platform that can minimise the outside latency results in an üaut;ber workstation that could, in principle, feed even a quadruplet of AMD Radeon HD 7990 dual GPU cards.

There is no real competition to the Xeon E5 right now either in workstation or in server markets, unless you count some Chinese RISC CPUs due later in the year whose peak performance might be in the same league but for now are confined to the Chinese internal market. The new AMD 'Abu Dhabi' 16-core 'Piledriver' based dual die server chip in the G34 socket is not due until the second half of the year.

Intel has created the ultimate 2012 workstation platform here. Expect even more when the usual tuned-up D-steppings with slight clock and power improvements come out later this year.

However, we hope for an earlier release of the next generation Ivy Bridge EP Xeon CPUs which, in the same socket, will bring 10-core density and even larger caches, not to mention DDR3-1866 server memory and hardware random number generators, among other things. Since the samples of those already seem to be circulating among the OEMs, it is a good idea for users to buy a Sandy Bridge EP now on a platform that is confirmed upgradeable to the Ivy Bridge EP with not more than just a BIOS fix. After all, while the CPUs aren't cheap at up to $2,000 a pop, and you need a pair of them anyway, the boards for them won't be that cheap either. µ


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