Workstation or Server - Xeon The Only Option?

Discussion in 'Intel x86 CPUs and chipsets' started by Sektion8, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. Sektion8

    Sektion8 Member

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    Hi All,
    I'm looking at buying a workstation for CAD/SolidModelling, and a SMB server.

    It seems all they offer for CPUs are Xeons.

    I'm seriously missing something here... As I thought (not really) that Xeon died 15years ago. With the internet FULL of quad-core this, hex-core that etc. where does a Xeon even fit-in these days?

    Our current workstation is a Core2Duo, and the server a P4D (single core, with HT)... and they seem to do FINE.

    I thought xeons were for SERIOUSLY intensive stuff, at a time when normal CPUs kinda sucked. Seems they had a ton of cache, and were used for multi-user environments, like when 50 people are hammering a server with big requests.

    If anyone knows a comparison/review off-hand, I'm dying to know.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Embercide

    Embercide Member

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    I've often thought the same when comparing similar i7's etc
     
  3. Nikoy

    Nikoy Member

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    I buy Xeons for my geo workstations usually duel socket boards with 2 xeons. The new xeons come in 2,4 and 6 core varities. If your supplier does AMD you should be able to get opetorns.
     
  4. chip

    chip Member

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    Xeons can run in multi-socket systems and support ECC and/or registered RAM, whereas Intel's desktop CPUs dont (deliberately on their part).
    You'll probably get better answers if you ask a mod to move this thread to the intel subforum.
     
  5. Annihilator69

    Annihilator69 Member

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    This is basically it, Xeon's are the same as the equivalent desktop chip performance wise.

    i.e. the new Xeon's are basically expensive top end desktop CPU's i.e. now i7 (Nehalem) and the previous generation were Intel (Core 2) architecture. And soon there will be (Sandybridge) Xeon's
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Sektion8

    Sektion8 Member

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xeon#5500-series_.22Gainestown.22

    For example...
    http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=37096
    E5506/4MB CACHE/2.13GHz/DDR3-800/4.8GT/s
    No TurboBoost
    Street-price for CPU $245+

    Compared to, say...
    http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=48496
    i5-760/8M Cache/2.80 GHz(3.33Ghz Turbo)/DDR-1333/2.5GT/s
    Has TurboBoost
    Street-price for CPU $198+

    Why would anyone buy/sell that Xeon for a single-socket Workstation?? I'm struggling to find why it should even be 1/2 the price. Seems all the reduced specs, and one benefit:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QuickPath

    Also, wikipedia says it's an x86 chip, although Intel says otherwise.

    This "review" seems to give some simplified info, but I still don't understand why single-CPU use.
    http://www.overclock.net/intel-cpus/836186-gainestown-overclocking-adventure-l5506-xeon-stock.html

     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2011
  7. proffesso

    proffesso Member

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    you wouldnt buy a 5XXX series for a single socket, its a dual socket capable cpu.

    the 3XXX is single socket

    pro gear always costs more, people who need the power are more willing to pay for it, hence a dual cpu workstation might cost 50% more than 2 single socket machines, but one person can get more done. price is really a non-issue when it comes to performance based computing
     
  8. chip

    chip Member

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    You're comparing two different generations of CPUs, and one of them is for dual socket systems. As has already been pointed out, Xeons will support error protection on the memory, and I'll bet the typical workstation motherboard has a lot more I/O bandwidth. They're both x86 CPUs with 64 bit extensions.

    Edit: Look at the difference in max memory in the two CPUs you posted. Also, the i5-760 does have turbo boost.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2011
  9. infiltraitor

    infiltraitor Member

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    the real difference between the two comes when you want more than the maximum performance of a single cpu.

    you know how awesome dual/quad core cpus are now...
    what about 10 years ago?
    back then you'd grab a quad xeon board with 256mb of ram for a great deal of cash and your neighbour would be working away on his pentium with 8mb of ram

    nowadays if you want more than 6 cores you look towards the workstation/server market.
    pick up a nice dual cpu motherboard, throw in 2x quad/six core chips, add 64GB of ram and top it off with dual 16lane pci-e slots
    and if you want more, look again at the quad cpu boards. double the cpus, double the ram capacity.
    but then again not everyone wants 24cores and 128GB of ram in one computer.
    so intel offers the reliability of an enterprise level chip in a compact single cpu chip

    its all about reliability and support costs.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Sektion8

    Sektion8 Member

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    ^ I can appreciate all that. But it seems Dell (for example) are trying to push Xeon's when they're not needed.
    I'm hearing ya man. But I'm looking at-say a Dell Precision T5500 Workstation, and that's what they're spec'ing. Seems same-goes for the server.
    I absolutely get that, for sure.
    Not by choice really. I'm trying to compare what I should buy for a Workstation, and for a Server. I'm kinda playing the cards I'm given.
    On a day-to-day aspect, how does that play a part? No BSODs?
    I'll have to read-up on that one, always more learning to be done :)
    Current server has 2GB, but we're looking at the idea of everyone using RDP, so more RAM will be needed (AFAIK). I don't think we'd ever reach max RAM

    PS. Fixed the error you mentioned, thanks.
     
  11. chip

    chip Member

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    Weeeell...sort of. If you were cruching through massive datasets on a 24/7 basis I'd expect ECC buffered RAM to be more reliable over the lifetime of the system. It also depends on the value of the data - if you're doing engineering or modelling work with high levels of precision, it's worth considering.

    You've been a bit vague about the anticipated workloads the machines will be copping. If you're going to be looking at running terminal services on the server (don't do this if it's also the domain controller) then you'll need to account for each user. If it's just going to be used for file services, then RAM's less important. For the CAD machine, Solidworks have a list of HW requirements and certified vendors that you could probably refer to.
     
  12. OP
    OP
    Sektion8

    Sektion8 Member

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    An interesting snippet...

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/2743/17

    Considering desktop machines are POWERFUL without even needing/wanting, it makes me wonder if it's the right choice to move everyone to RDP. Bah, I keep going in circles! That's for another thread, I think.

    AND...
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3951/virtualization-ask-the-experts-5
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2011
  13. Aetherone

    Aetherone Member

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    I suspect Dell are specc'ing a dual capable chip to match the dual socket board. Should you decide to wuss out and only get a single chip when you initially buy the system, later on you can just purchase another matching CPU and drop it in.

    If the system was offered with a single SMP disabled (as in desktop) chip, you'd have to buy two SMP capable CPUs to go from one to two.
     
  14. Raykay

    Raykay Member

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    Well I can answer from experience...

    I previously had an i7 930 which has 8mb cache and is rated at 2.8GHz
    My Xeon X5560 has the exact same specs except the extra QPI link and memory and so on.

    My Xeon pulled in higher Gflops than my i7. So better silicon? Also they are made to be much more reliable on data centres and so on.
     
  15. Phido

    Phido Member

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    They will sell single socket cpus because people need ecc and people want to be able to build a server with completely the same specs and board.

    Server/Workstation grade and consumer grades are world apart. CPU's can be quiet simular, but have additional features, voltages, wattages, etc.

    If downtime means money (and not just an inconveient restart) then you want the good stuff.
     
  16. Camm

    Camm Member

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    Another benefit is that Xeons often fill niche's such as low power consumption. My EVGA SR-2 has 2xXeon L5530 which are Hyper Threaded quadcores with only 60w power usage for example
     

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