Among the different specs for Xeon, available here, http://ark.intel.com/compare/87720,84679, which aspects makes it relevant for HPC ?

The processor base frequency is less than for Core i7. Why Xeon did not achieve same performance, and why is it not a drawback for HPC ?


Xeons are relevant to HPC because they (together with supporting components e.g. chipset, motherboard, RAM) are designed to scale.

This motherboard supports four Xeon CPUs and a ridiculous amount of RAM. You can't do that with i7 CPUs!

  • is it an advantage to have the least possible RAM? – kiriloff Jul 14 '15 at 8:18
  • @Octoback It is an advantage to have the right amount of RAM for your workload, not the least! – misha256 Jul 14 '15 at 19:24
  • 4 sockets is rather small scale. SGI UV 3000 systems scale to 256 sockets using Xeon E5-4600 processors and 64TB of memory using SGI's NUMAlink chipset. – Muh Fugen Dec 2 '16 at 12:48
  • SGI UV tech is SGI UV tech, not Intel Xeon tech. It's impressive but that NUMA connect is way slower than standard NUMA-like 4S socket interconnects, and honestly doesn't scale well if used as a point of comparison. It also makes little sense next to Phi and related tech today. – user1901982 Sep 7 '17 at 11:56

There are various architectural features in Server Class processors that are critical for performance and the CPU frequency is just one aspect in that.

  • Number of cores - This is one of the biggest factors that influences its applicability for HPC. The total cores = number of sockets * cores per die.
  • Memory Bandwidth achievable - The Xeons have huge caches when compared to the desktop counterparts and achieve higher throughputs as well. The memory Bandwidth in the latest Xeons (Q2' 15) is more than 100GB when compared to <30GB/s on the i7
  • Security features like the Trusted execution technology
  • Higher PCI express lanes which enable further extension and performance from the PCI connected devices.

A quick comparison on Intel ark gives us the high level overview.

Ultimately an architect has to tune the system to suit its needs, these advantages on the server front is weighed against other features on the desktop front like the support for Graphics.

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