Intel's 32nm, Sandy Bridge-EP (Efficient Performance) Xeon E5-2600 (Fig. 1) is now the top of the line server platform. It's 8 cores deliver 16 threads via Intel's HyperThreading support and it also supports Turbo Boost 2.0 overclocking. The chips also support Advanced Vector Extension (AVX) floating point math (see Intel's AVX Scales To 1024 bit Vector Math). The multi-socket E5-2600 comes in 17 different configurations ranging in price from $198 to $2,050. There is a single socket version named the E5-1600 that targets small servers and workstations. The release of this latest chip has opened the floodgates to a host of related announcements from vendors using or supporting the Xeon E5. 

Xeon E5-2600

Fig. 1: Intel's 8-core Xeon E5-2600 deliver 16 threads via Intel's HyperThreading support.

The chip is 434 mm2 with 2.27 billion transistors (Fig. 2). The processors support up to 768 Gbytes of system memory and runs up to 3.3 GHz. It works with the "Patsburg" C6000 chipset. The combination was code named Romley.

Xeon E5-2600

Fig. 2: Xeon E5-2600 has 2.27 billion transistors. The 8-cores are in the center.

Each core has a 32 Kbyte L1 data cache, a 256 Kbyte L2 cache and up to 20 Mbytes of L3 cache. Inside the chip is a high speed, bidirectional ring that links the L3 cache slices with the quad memory controllers, I/O controllers and dual 8 Gtransfer/s QPI (Quick Path Interconnect) links. The memory controllers support up to three DDR3-1600 sockets for a total of 12 DIMMs but more on memory later. The I/O controller provides 40-lanes of PCI Express Gen 3.0 support and it eliminates the need to run through an off-chip interface. The C6000 adds x8 PCI Express Gen 2 links and slower devices such as USB 2.0, 3 Gbit/s and 6 Gbit/s SATA ports and SM Bus for system management.

Dual Xeon E5-2600

Fig. 3: The QPI links tie a pair of Xeon E5-2600 together into a 16-core system.

Intel Integrated I/O (Intel IIO) and Intel Data Direct I/O (Intel DDIO) Intel DDIO allows I/O traffic from devices like Intel's X540 Ethernet controllers to be routed directly to the cache. Intel Integrated I/O (Intel IIO) provides support for PCIe non-transparent bridging. The on-chip ring, I/O support and on-chip PCI Express links provide a significant I/O performance boost over earlier Xeon chips.

The C6000 supports TPM (Trusted Platform Module) while the Xeon E5-2600 includes support for Intel's Advanced Encryption Standard New Instruction (AES-NI14) instructions. This allows it to keep up with encrypted network traffic as well as providing general security support. The chip also supports Intel's Trusted Execution Technology (TXT15).