How Multi-Processor Systems Work
One sure way to increase computer performance is to increase parallel processing. This means not only increasing the number of threads per core but also the number of processors.
What Does LGA 2011 v3 Mean?
Also known as Socket R3, this refers to the Land Grid Array socket used for the 22 nanometer "Haswell" series of Xeon server CPUs. These processors marked a significant step forward from the preceding "Ivy Bridge" series. While both Intel microarchitectures have a number of similarities, there are also significant differences which come into play when it comes to overall performance:
- Ivy Bridge: The biggest factors here are core count and memory support. This architecture supports up to 12 physical cores and DDR3 RAM. It introduced the shrink to the 22-nanometer process.
- Haswell: This revised 22-nanometer processor architecture offers a maximum of 18 physical cores and introduced DDR4 support. Total cache also increased to a maximum of 45 MB for the 18-core version. Like its predecessor it could support a maximum frequency of 3.5 GHz.
How Do You Choose a Xeon?
As with any CPU processor decision, the choice of a DDR4-enabled Intel Xeon depends a lot on what your needs may be. In most cases, you're less likely to need to go to the maximum in any one quality, but rather look to balancing your CPU specifications against the most likely use cases. Factors to look into include:
- Processor Count: The more cores and sockets you have, the greater number of simultaneous threads your system can keep in flight at any one time. While a quad-core design may be plenty for desktop applications, it's not enough for a web server that's going to be hit with potentially hundreds of simultaneous requests.
- CPU Speed: Speed matters most for single-threaded applications, where a 3.5 GHz six-core can greatly out-perform even the beefiest 2.3 GHz 18-core Xeon because the application can't take advantage of the additional thread support.
- Power Consumption: Once you get into rack mounts you can start running into some pretty tight limits for power and heat; the TDP or Thermal Design Power often limits your system, especially when you have multiple sockets.
The way to look at using a Xeon starts with understanding how programming has evolved. Once you get into a server environment you're no longer dealing with purely sequential processes. Instead, you have to deal with various degrees of parallelism where one Xeon is dealing with multiple threads and having to schedule different programs so that each one gets the data it needs in the order it requires it. It requires more work from the OS but provides more overall flexibility.
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