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16 cores in action: Asus Z9PE-D8 WS and Intel Xeon E5-2687W
by Guillaume Louel
Published on September 26, 2012

During our test of Intel’s new high-end platform at the end of last year, we regretted the fact that there were no eight-core models on the LGA 2011 platform.

The highest end general consumer Intel, the Core i7 3960X, only has six active cores, though it is based on an eight-core die. The reason given for this choice is to try to contain energy consumption and thus maintain the TDP at around 130 Watts. This is understandable but you do have to wonder what the eight-core version would have given us in terms of performance.

While there’s talk of the forthcoming launch of consumer eight-core processors on the Ivy Bridge-EP platform, we don’t actually have to wait for these to arrive on the market to get an idea of how they will do: the SandyBridge-Es already exist in an eight-core version... as Xeon E5s! The range designed for Intel server applications was in effect renewed in March and shares the same die as our cut-down Core i7 3960X.

Indeed there are no fewer than eight eight-core processors in this range! Apart from clock segmentation, TDP segmentation also exists to cover different cooling needs. The question of TDP is particularly important when this type of processor is placed in rack servers.

If you look closely however, there’s one processor in this list that stands out somewhat from the rest. It isn’t right at the top of the range and isn’t even the most expensive. It also has a TDP of 150 Watts. Called the Xeon E5-2687W, it’s Intel’s fastest octo-core with a base clock of 3.1 GHz and a Turbo mode that can go up to 3.8 GHz. It’s a chip that wouldn’t look at all bad at the top of the Core i7 hierarchy and one that we’ve decided to test for you.

Because two heads are better than one…

One of the particularities of this Xeon is that, like other processors in the 2600 series, it can run in a pair. We wouldn’t therefore have felt right testing it on its own! This did of course require a suitable motherboard. We got our hands on the Z9PE-D8 WS, an Asus ‘server’ board designed for ‘workstation’ use and which also has something of the mass market motherboard about it!

… and how the ATX is a good deal too small!

So then, the dream opportunity to introduce this type of platform to you – extreme in all senses of the word – and for those who desire it, to go into the details of how platforms with two sockets (abbreviated to 2S in this report) or more function!

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