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Intel launches 15-core Xeon E7 v2 family for big data and mission-critical computing

18 Feb 2014
Intel Xeon

Intel has introduced its Xeon E7 v2 family of processors aimed at the most demanding data centre workloads, including big data analytics, mission-critical enterprise applications, databases and highly virtualised environments.

Available now in systems from vendors including HP, Dell, IBM, Cisco, Fujitsu and Bull, the Xeon E7 v2 family supports up to 15 processor cores per chip and three times the memory capacity of the previous generation at up to 1.5TB per socket, Intel said.

This provides servers with the ability to scale up to any workload, enabling customers to implement the most demanding applications, including in-memory processing of databases and data analytics, including real-time analysis of incoming data streams, according to Intel.

"The advanced performance, memory capacity and reliability of the Intel Xeon processor E7 v2 family enable IT organisations to deliver real-time analysis of large data sets to spot and capitalise on trends, create new services and deliver business efficiency," said Diane Bryant, senior vice president of Intel's Data Centre Group.

The Xeon E7 v2 line, also known as Ivy Bridge EX, is the 22nm successor to the earlier Westmere EX line and comprises three families; the E7-8800, E7-4800 and E7-2800 series. These are designed for eight-socket, four-socket and two-socket systems, respectively. However, they can also scale to 32-socket designs when combined with specialist node controller chipsets.

Intel Xeon E7 v2 skus

[Click image to enlarge]

These new chips are effectively Intel's top-of-the-line processors, aside from the Itanium family that increasingly occupies only niche segments such as HP's Integrity line. It offers 50 percent more cores than the previous generation, plus larger cache capacities up to 37.5MB.

Like the updated Xeon E5 v2 family that launched last year, the Xeon E7 v2 chips feature a more complex on-die ring bus arrangement due to the cores being arranged in three groups of five cores in the case of the top-end models with up to 15 cores. Models will also ship with 12, 10, eight and six cores.

Intel Xeon E7 v2 core arrangement

[Click image to enlarge]

With the Xeon E7 v2 line, Intel is also introducing Intel Run Sure Technology, a collection of features aimed at enhancing the reliability, availability and serviceability (RAS) of the Xeon platform.

These comprise enhanced Machine Check Architecture (MCA) features, such as MCA Recovery Execution Path, which extends software-assisted error recovery to include uncorrectable data errors, MCA I/O, which provides information on uncorrected I/O errors to the OS, and PCI Express Live Error Recovery (LER), which enables the system to contain and recover from PCI Express bus errors.

On-chip PCI Express is another improvement of the Xeon E7 v2 over its predecessors, with the chips supporting 128 lanes of I/O in addition to the standard Intel QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) links. This delivers a 4x improvement in I/O bandwidth, according to Intel.

Other enhancements include new memory controller configurations, with two Scalable Memory Interconnect (SMI) Gen 2 links per home agent/memory controller, for a total of four links per processor socket.

Intel's Jordan Creek Memory Extension Buffer connects to this and offers two DDR3 back channels per SMI, which can be configured to operate in two modes: lock-step mode for enhanced reliability or performance mode for higher performance.

Intel Xeon E7 v2 memory configurations

[Click image to enlarge]

Lock-step mode supports clock speeds up to 1,600MHz, but both back channels are tied together with half the memory cache line read from each. In performance mode, the two back channels can operate independently at up to 1,333MHz, for an effective speed of 2,667MHz, according to Intel.

The top chip in the initial line-up is the E7-8890 v2, which features 15 cores and is clocked at 2.8GHz. At the opposite end is the six-core E7-4809 v2 clocked at 1.9GHz, while the two-socket E7-2800 series has 15 core and 12 core versions.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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