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Intel's latest Xeon processor boasts up to 18 cores

Posted: 07 May 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel? processor? IBM? data centre? big data?

Intel has announced the Intel Xeon processor E7-8800/4800 v3 product families (Xeon X7v3) that claims to be the fastest processor aimed at data analytics, as well as other applications such as engineering, scientific and other workloads. Available with up to 18 cores, the Xeon E7v3 improves performance while reducing power, putting it ahead of its main competition, IBM's Power8, according to the company.

"Over the last few years, the cost per server has dropped 40 per cent while the market is growing to $17 billion," stated Edward Goldman, CTO in Intel's data centre group. "To meet those customer expectations Intel's latest high-end E7 version 3 processor improves performance by 25 to 40 per cent, has the largest memory space available today, up to 1.4TB per core, and runs on 60 per cent less power than an IBM Power8 with 85 per cent less total cost of ownership."

E7v3

Real-time business intelligence (BI) and analytics has become a top priority as the time-to-market has shrunk from years to months, and the flood of "big data" has created a deluge overwhelming the traditional data centre. "White box" or low-end processors do fine for easy tasks like serving up web pages, but for heavy-duty analytic loads all the processor makers, led by Intel and IBM, are looking for ways to harness the biggest clusters of multicore processors they can, not just to keep up, but ideally to predict where the future of their businesses are going so they can plan to be there when it happens, rather than catch-up after the newest trend is.

The biggest customers of BI and analytics using big data, namely health care, retail and telecommunications among a dozen others, are turning to in-memory computing (loading the entire application and its data into main memory rather than keep spooling from mass storage) to run their big data analytics, a market which Intel claims will exceed $9.5 billion by 2018. That's why Intel built the largest memory space available to any processor, 1.4TB per core, into the E7v3, they say, estimating that 50 per cent of large installations are adopting in-memory computing for BI and real-time analytics.

Inside the E7v3

In Intel's famous yearly tick-tock upgrade policy, where "tick" is a process improvement while "tock" is an architectural improvement, the Xeon E7v3 is a tock, thus getting a work over on its architecture rather than advancing to the next process node.

"The E7v3 is a 'tock' on our tick-tock redesign schedule, and this updates the micro-architecture, rather that the process technology which remains at 22nm, due to be updated to 14nm during the tick phase next year," said Chris Gianos, lead system architect at Intel.

The die size is about the same as the E7 version 2 (E7v2), but squeezed six more cores for 18-total cores onto its maximum configuration (E7v2 maxed out at 12-cores) by removing the third ring for processor intercommunications and instead putting buffers between the two remaining rings for inter-processor communications between cores on the two main rings.

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