After having completed our value comparison of theMay 2014 consumer refresh processors, we decided to do the same for Intel’s new refresh Xeon processors. Intel recently launched 11 new Intel Xeon E3-1200 V3 processors. New may be a bit of a misnomer here. The processors largely add about 100MHz over previous models at the same price point. The easiest way to conceptualize this change is that Intel is now selling processors at one step lower of a price.
For example the E3-1240 V3 and the newly launched E3-1231 V3 have the same features and clock speeds. Intel essentially just moved the price point for the given clock speed down by one step. The new Intel Xeon E3-1231 V3 is a 3.4GHz part at $240 while the previous generation E3-1240 V3 was $262.
Overall one can see the prices of these chips are falling. The Intel Xeon E3-1281 V3 shows a clear inflection point in terms of price and value. Frankly, moving to the E3-1281 V3 over the E3-1271 V3 is a hard step to make from a value perspective. The Intel Xeon E3-1231 V3 is the value price/ performance leader.
One other new development is that ark.intel.com only lists “tray” pricing and does not have retail boxed SKUs for the refreshed Intel Xeon E3-1200 V3 lineup. We have seen evidence of some boxed versions showing up at retailers such as this E3-1231 V3 at Amazon.
Another perspective on the refresh
The refresh of Haswell this year is perhaps a complete letdown. The lack of pressure from AMD and ARM in the space should be readily apparent. Unlike the consumer side, Intel Xeon E3-1200 V3 range still has a primary focus of CPU performance. Performance improvements on the Xeon E3 line have been measured at best. We are now about four years since the Sandy Bridge generation E3-1200 series launch. There have been three generations of the Intel Xeon E3 line plus this latest refresh. At the same price points performance over four years has gone up less than 40%. Power consumption is down also but this is still four years later. Platforms have gotten better but the highest volume Xeon E3 parts have not been benefiting from GPU advancements made for successive consumer generations.
Here is what the refresh looks like in terms of a few STHbench Linux benchmarks including hardinfo, our single and multi threaded UnixBench benchmarks and a pts/7zip benchmark:
As one can see the Intel Xeon E3 lineup seems to be on a completely different trajectory than Intel’s Atom and Xeon E5/ E7 processors. The Xeon E3-1230 (v1) was launched three years ago and the Xeon E3-1231 V3 is the newly launched part. The increment between the Xeon E3-1231 V3 and the E3-1230 V3 represents a year of progress. Given these are a few MHz shy of the highest end parts, they are also a good representative sample of a segments performance progression.
On the other hand, the Xeon E5-2690 and Xeon E5-2697 V2 represent the high end parts of successive Xeon E5 generations. One can see major differences. Likewise, the Atom S1260 and Atom C2750 were a generational improvement and there is a huge chasm between their performance. The Intel Xeon E3-1200 V3 refresh does clearly show that consumer needs for CPU power have stalled along with competitiveness in the consumer x86 space. Power consumption has improved a decent amount but CPU performance has plateaued.