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Buyer’s Guide to Xeon Servers

a Xenon Server

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.

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What Is a Xeon Server?

The CPU in your server is called a processor. It's the unit that receives, interprets, and delivers instructions. It also processes data and performs tasks, including running queries and serving web pages. 

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.

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.

Cost

Xeon processors and servers are more expensive than Core for the most part.

The lower-speed Xeon E3, for example, is a lower speed model. It's as affordable as some of the Core i5 processors. This makes it a good choice for some less resource intensive tasks, such as media servers or e-commerce hosting.

Memory Support

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.

Watch our video on what is 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 a Xeon.

Cache

Cache is a tiny amount of memory on the processor itself. Core processors have an 8MB cache or less. Some models have up to 25MB. The Xeon E7 CPUs, however, have over 60MB of cache.

Clock Speed

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.

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.

Power Dissipation

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.

Multiple CPUs

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 Xeons support multiple CPUs. 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.

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.

Virtualization Support

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

Whether you need a server for your small business, a storage server, or a cloud workstation, Intel Xeon processors will deliver reliable performance and efficiency.

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.