Today we are taking a look at the Intel Xeon E3-1240 V2, which is a new Ivy Bridge Xeon E3 series CPU built on Intel’s new 22nm process. Like last year where most of the original E3-1200 series was reviewed, we will be reviewing the vast majority of Intel’s Xeon E3 V2 lineup. The Xeon E3-1240 V2 is a very attractive processor from a number of perspectives. One of the most compelling is that it is the fastest sub-$300 CPU with only a $35 current premium over the Xeon E3-1230 V2 that was recently reviewed. Moving to the next step up, the E3-1270 V2, which involves a similar 100MHz clock speed jump, currently costs another $70, or double the premium required for the first 100MHz speed bump. Intel has upgraded this generation with a few new features, a power sipping 22nm tri-gate manufacturing process, PCIe 3.0, 1600MHz DDR3 unbuffered ECC memory support and a 100MHz speed bump over the Sandy Bridge generation. For those wondering, here is the Intel ARK comparison of the Sandy Bridge v. Ivy Bridge generations of the Intel Xeon E3-1240. Note: Intel’s ARK lists this as the Xeon E3-1240V2 with no space. Let’s take a closer look!
Supermicro upgraded its X9SCx series to support the Ivy Bridge Xeon E3 family so I decided to use one of the most popular Xeon E3 LGA 1155 motherboards, the Supermicro X9SCM-F for the Ivy Bridge Xeon E3 reviews.
- CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1240 V2
- Motherboard: Supermicro X9SCM-F
- Memory: 16GB Kingston ECC 1600 CL11 DDR3 4x 4GB UDIMMs
- OS Drive: OCZ Vertex 4 256GB
- Enclosure: Norco RPC-4224
- Power Supply: Corsair AX750 750w 80Plus Gold PSU and PicoPSU 150XT with 150w power brick for power consumption testing.
- OS: Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit
As one may recall, the Intel C204 chipset does not allow one to use the integrated graphics of the Intel E3-12×5 (V1/V2) series CPUs so it is best to pair the X9SCM-F with a Xeon E3-12×0 series CPU. The older C206 or newer C216 chipsets are better pairings for the E3-12×5 series CPUs with onboard GPUs. Just to note, the configuration above was calibrated to within 1w at idle and load of the previous generation’s Tyan platform. I spent many hours getting this to be as close as possible, but for release support reasons I needed to switch to the Supermicro X9SCM-F platform for this round of Xeon E3-1200 V2 series reviews.
I will start off this section by saying that the standard test suite was built to test 1-8 thread single CPU systems such as the Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge Intel Xeon CPUs. With platforms like this one, I have been slowly altering the mix. Clearly, one would expect a different workload between the Xeon E5-2687W CPU and something found in a low-end, low-power server like a Pentium G630. Moving to the 16-64 core realm where the Xeon E5 series will play, that is becoming the norm today, I think that it will become ever more important to develop a second test suite.
I have been using Cinebench benchmarks for years but have held off using them on ServeTheHome.com because the primary focus of the site until the past few months has been predominantly storage servers. With the expansion of the site’s scope, Cinebench has been added to the test suite because it does represent a valuable benchmark of multi-threaded performance. I have had quite a few readers contact me about this type of performance for things like servers that are Adobe CS6 compute nodes and similar applications. Cinebench R11.5 is something that anyone can run on their Windows machines to get a relative idea of performance and both Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge and Sandy Bridge-EP systems run it well.
7-Zip Compression Benchmark
7-Zip is an immensely popular compression application with an easy to use benchmark.
Again we are seeing a nice performance improvement over both the Intel Xeon E3-1230 V2 as well as the Sandy Bridge based Xeon E3-1280 (V1). A fair number of folks use Xeons to run compression and encryption on their servers so this is a pretty useful metric. With that said, one will probably not upgrade from a Xeon E3-1240 V1 based on this although users that picked up a Xeon E3-1220 will notice quite a performance improvement.
TrueCrypt Encryption Benchmarks
With Intel’s focus on its AES-NI features TrueCrypt can look a bit skewed. Unlike some dubious drivers over the years that were optimized for benchmarks over real world application, Intel’s AES-NI feature does encompass the addition of specialized hardware. This specialized hardware has many practical uses and is becoming more supported. For example, users of Solaris 11 can utilize the AES-NI features to see much higher throughput on encrypted volumes. AMD has started offering AES-NI with their Bulldozer CPUs, and I will have those results added to future pieces. Let’s see how Intel does here.
This time we find the Intel Xeon E3-1240 V2 in a dead heat with the Xeon E3-1280 and ahead of the Xeon E3-1230 V2 by a negligible amount. Now that AES encryption is essentially “free” if the hardware support is employed by the applications used, there is a case to be made moving from a non AES-NI CPU to one with AES-NI.
Handbrake 0.9.5 x264 Encoding Benchmarks
I am still using Handbrake v0.9.5 simply because the Handbrake team does do some nice tweaking between annual versions and all of the other CPUs have been tested with v0.9.5. We will begin to collect data on v0.9.6 and start using that once we have critical mass. Either way, Handbrake is an extremely popular x264 encoding and transcoding application as it is very common practice these days to encode video for various tablets, phones and other devices. These transcodes also take a fair amount of time so having faster CPUs is important.
Again here we see some performance improvement, but nothing that would sway most decisions to purchase to one Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge Xeon E3 to another based on this data so long as all models in consideration have Hyper-threading and are 4C/ 8T like the Xeon E3-1240 V2.
Intel’s move to 22nm is something hearlded as a new era in lower power consumption, especially with tri-gate technology and future process improvements that will increase that number. Using an Extech 380803 True RMS power analyzer which is a really nice unit that even records usage over time.
Interestingly enough, we see the same power consumption figures from both the Xeon E3-1240 V2 and E3-1230 V2. At first I was expecting to see at least a 1w difference, but with only a 100MHz difference between the two and the fact that there is some small variation between chips, I think this is within the range that I would expect. Ivy Bridge continues to be a leader here.
I think the Intel Xeon E3-1240 V2 provides the best mix of performance versus cost in the new Ivy Bridge based Xeon E3-1200 V2 series. The E3-1230 V2 is perhaps a strong “value” play, but I think it is telling that there is no current Xeon E3-1235 V2 SKU even though there was a V1 E3-1235. I do think this is telling as to where Intel sees the price/ performance sweet spot to be in the lineup. Overall, this is one of those generational upgrades that is going to completely replace the previous generation in the market. Both CPUs use the same sockets, and motherboards such as the Supermicro X9SCM-F can utilize a simple BIOS upgrade to enable the DDR3 1600 speeds and the PCIe 3.0 capabilities of the Ivy Bridge chips. This is going to be my Recommended Buy in the Xeon E3-1200 V2 range at launch because I think it is a good value play in the lineup.