The Intel Xeon line is often the best choice for high-demand servers and workstations. A Xeon server can handle data-intensive processes and maintain the speed that Intel is known for.
If you are new to the Xeon server and Central Processing Units (CPU), read on to see what sets them apart from other CPUs. Understanding the features will help you choose the right server for your needs.
What Is a Xeon Server?
The CPU in your server is called a processor (Central Processing Unit), it’s the unit that receives, interprets, and delivers instructions. It also processes data and performs tasks, including running queries and serving web pages.
The Intel Xeon processor derived from the Pentium brand, particularly the popular Pentium iii Xeon. For several years running, Intel has called their x86 server and workstation processors “Xeon.” There are many variations. Some differ from Intel’s mainstream processor.
The latest Xeon line includes the Xeon W processors and the Xeon Scalable Processors (codename “Purley.”) The scalable processor is for workstations and servers that use multiple sockets. Others have extra features, such as Error-Correcting Code (ECC) memory support. The more advanced variants have stronger processor capabilities and more cache memory.
These server processors deliver essential performance while their memory supports enhanced visual processes. These systems are perfectly suited for power workstations, gaming servers, VPNs, Agencies hosting multiple websites, Edge computing, IoT, and business of all sizes.
Considerations When Selecting Xeon Servers
It’s often difficult to determine when you need a Xeon server over other processors. The following are some fundamental differences that can help you make that distinction.
Your organization has identified a need for a server, but perhaps you need more than one. If so, you will want scalability. Let’s say your company creates widgets that you sell on your website and business has taken off. Your sales have gone from hundreds per month to thousands and you are tracking everything from sales, to supply chain to production.
Your IT department started with one person and now you have a team of three or four and you are outgrowing your server space. You are considering purchasing an Intel Xeon scalable setup and the team has identified your server needs in order to grow to the next level. These needs may include production and supply chain tracking, e-commerce hosting, a large CRM database and a web server.
In a situation like this, you want to consider scalable servers that are segregated. This kind of architecture offers the necessary separate processing power that you will require as your business grows, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle fitting neatly into a compact data center.
Not all situations are the same and clearly, this is just one example. Read on.
Augmenting vs New Servers
You may already have a server to run your processes and data but now it is time to scale, do I keep the old server you ask? If you do have an older machine running on Windows and it seems sluggish, you can always consider a Linux system. Linux, which is an open-source, free-to-use operating system with a global support community is often used to enable older machines to work more efficiently.
Regardless, you know that you must either increase your capacity or capability. If during your planning you realize that your processing level will not require more than a 50% increase, you can boost productivity by adding more processors and other components such as disk drives, network interfaces, and disk controllers.
If you determine that your needs will exceed more than twice your current level of processing power, you are better off adding a new server to meet peak load. If you realize that you require processors that are powerful, versatile, flexible, and suited for virtually any high-intensity workload, you will most certainly want to consider the Intel Xeon W Series Servers. With Turbo Speeds up to 4.5 GHz and 4 physical cores (2 logical cores per physical), these machines are incredibly powerful and meant to be used as a workstation.
Now that you know your requirements, you can choose your server, understanding that the Xeon processors and servers are more expensive than Core, for the most part.
The lower-speed Intel Xeon E3, for example, is a lower-speed, web server with high energy efficiency. It’s as affordable as some of the Core i5 processors, which are regular desktop-grade CPUs, and comes standard with a quad-core and advanced features. This makes it a good choice for some less resource-intensive tasks, such as media servers or e-commerce hosting, and great value for your money.
All Xeon E3 series and almost all Core CPUs support up to 64GB. Though, many Xeon systems support more than 1TB of memory.
One of the most stand-out features of a Xeon server and processor is that they support Error Correcting Code (ECC) memory.
ECC memory protects against single-bit memory errors. Basically, it identifies and corrects the errors. This is key for those systems in which reliability and uptime are imperative.
Some of the mainstream Intel Core processors also support ECC. They have the correct chipset and motherboard. To be sure you have ECC memory support, you need the Xeon brand.
Watch our video on what is ECC memory?
Cache is a tiny amount of memory on the processor itself. CPU cores have an 8MB cache or less. Some models have up to 25MB. The Xeon E7 CPUs, however, have over 60MB of cache making this machine incredibly powerful. The HVEC 10-bit hardware acceleration enables enhanced decoding and encoding of 4K video.
How fast any given processor works depends on the clock speed. Clock speed is the speed in hertz (GHz) at which the processor generates and deploys instructions. The faster the clock, the more instructions the CPU can execute per second.
Speed is not a surefire feature to use when deciding on a processor. The reason for this is because the advent of Turbo Boost enables the clock speed to change depending on the workload, providing better performance.
Clock speed and Turbo boost are usually connected with power dissipation. The lower the Thermal Power Dissipation (TDP), the lower the clock speed. Higher TDP models usually have higher Turbo Boost ability. A Xeon server that has multiple cores will have a lower clock speed.
All Core CPUs except for the Extreme edition have TDP below 100W. The Xeon CPU goes up to 165W. Generally speaking, power dissipation in a Xeon is higher than a Core. The Core can overclock more easily.
Are you running applications that need many processor cores, extra memory, or a high memory bandwidth? Perhaps you even require all three of these. If so, you may need a system with multiple Central Processing Units (CPU).
Many of the Intel Xeon servers support multiple CPUs or higher core counts. The ‘core’ is the CPU’s processor and each core can work on a different task. A multi-core processor is a processor on a single integrated circuit that carries more than one single processor. Back around the turn of the century was when the processor market really started to mature, with Intel developing their first dual-core processor which was the Pentium iii Xeon (in an effort to fend off AMD’s advancement in the space). Currently, many of the Xeon processors currently come with up to eight cores.
They do so by using added on-chip technology to allow the CPUs to communicate. This way, the CPUs can share memory access and coordinate tasks. By having more cores, you will gain improved performance in your computations.
With this configuration, each CPU has its own set of memory modules and a controller. It also has its processing cores. Together this means more computing power, memory, and bandwidth.
Many server workloads are now virtualized. The software and operating systems run within isolated “bubbles” of fake hardware. This way, one host Operating System (OS) can manage several virtual environments.
This configuration can somewhat isolate what happens within this virtual environment. To do that, it needs to have unique extensions that the hardware supports.
Xeon CPUs usually support those extensions well. Most server and workstation-class motherboards also support them. You can sometimes find these features on mainstream hardware.
Choosing Your Xeon Servers
These new-generation Xeon series scalable processors come with built-in AI acceleration, advanced security features, and balanced architecture allowing you to operate securely. These servers benefit from several generations of innovation for the most common workload requirements, be it for enterprise, gaming, or a private network.
Intel has developed close partnerships and deep integrations with the world’s software leaders and solution providers. They are also optimized for many workload types and performance levels, all with the consistent, open, Intel architecture you know and trust.
Hopefully, this article gave you a better understanding of Xeon servers versus their Core equivalents. The type of server you choose depends on your business needs.
Contact us today for help choosing the perfect Xeon server for you.