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Intel's new E5-4600 processor is a variant of its E5-2600

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July 27, 2016

Sometimes, Intel doesn’t make a lot of publicity about a specific product, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's not important for the chip maker.

Instead, it could be an indication of some relative importance, and with such a broad portfolio of processors, it dosen't mean that it's time to bring out the noisy trumpets everytime.

Essentially, Intel's new E5-4600 processor is just a variant of its E5-2600 CPU that has a slightly different NUMA configuration.

With the E5-2600, the two QPI links on the processor are cross-coupled, providing high bandwidth and low latency between the two sockets.

It also offers near linear scaling across the compute and memory segments of the processor. For all intents and purposes, the two-socket design looks like a massive single processor to the systems software.

But with higher levels of NUMA, it can take two or three more hops between the sockets for data to be moved in certain specific applications.

Here's where it gets interesting-- with the E5-4600s, the 4 chips are linked in a ring with each processor being directly linked to two adjacent processors but needing two hops to get to the fourth.

This adds some latency in the memory access across the NUMA cluster, which is important for some but certainly not all workloads.

With the Xeon E7-4800s, each chip has three QPI links, so the four chips in a quad-socket box again are tightly linked and it only takes one hop to get from one socket to the other.

With the E7-8800, two rings of quad sockets are cross-connected and a quarter of the time again it takes two hops to get from one socket to the other, but three quarters of the time it only takes one hop or no hop at all because you hit the target right on the first try.

All this hopping around is what makes NUMA systems work, and we will not get into the quasi-NUMA functionality going on in the rings of cores on a single processor, but this is getting fractal as we scale with cores instead of clocks to boost the overall performance of a typical system.

The interesting thing in all of this is that Intel is delivering more aggregate compute performance in the E5-4600s than it is doing in the E7-4800s, and it is charging a lot more for it than it does for the E7-4800s.

We are not sure exactly what the overall system price would be for systems using one or the other processor, but once those larger memory cards with their buffer chips are taken into account with the E7-4800s, it could be that the overall cost for the E5-4600 system could still be a bit lower.

We know for sure that the compute density is higher with the E5-4600 because it does not need those larger memory cards but just the same kind of normal DDR4 memory chips for the Xeon E5-2600 processors that are used in two-socket systems.

Source: Intel.

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