Articles: CPU

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It is Intel’s new CPUs with Haswell microarchitecture that interest users the most. Their benefits, though not numerous, are indisputable. They offer increased performance, a much faster integrated graphics core, and better energy efficiency. However, Haswell-based CPUs are not so good for a desktop PC enthusiast. The problem is that Intel’s desktop CPUs are actually made of mobile CPUs with certain adaptations, so they have rather low frequency potential and high operating temperatures on desktop PCs.

We shouldn’t forget that the Haswell is not the top-end desktop offer from Intel, though. Especially for enthusiasts Intel supports the LGA2011 platform which traces its origin back to server rather than mobile solutions. And it is a platform with most enticing specs. LGA2011 CPUs have a lot of execution cores and an increased number of PCIe lanes, which is advantageous for multi-GPU configurations. The memory subsystem bandwidth is fantastically high. The only problem is that LGA2011 CPUs get updated at a much slower rate than Intel’s microarchitectures.

Until recently, the LGA2011 CPU series included only models with Sandy Bridge-E microarchitecture which was announced about 2 years ago. Fortunately, Intel has plans to develop this platform further as is indicated by the recent large-scale update. The LGA2011 platform itself remains unchanged, which is good news for users who prefer to upgrade their components one by one, but there are new LGA2011 CPUs available now. Manufactured on 22nm tech process with 3D transistors, they represent the more advanced Ivy Bridge-E microarchitecture.

Of course, enthusiasts would prefer the new CPUs to be based on the Haswell-E design because the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture was introduced about a year ago. It so happens that the LGA1150 platform, being a lower-class solution, features more advanced CPUs now. However, there is an easy explanation why we have Ivy Bridge-E based LGA2011 CPUs. Intel’s flagship desktop platform is directly related to the Xeon series and the server ecosystem doesn’t have to evolve as quickly as mobile solutions. On the contrary, changing CPU generations too often and losing backward compatibility in the process is not desirable for buyers of expensive servers who want long-time support for their investment.

That’s why Intel just couldn’t release Haswell-E CPUs that would have required an overhaul of the entire infrastructure and called for a new CPU socket. The Haswell-E will only come out in the second half of the next year when the LGA2011 platform will be nearing the end of its 3-year lifecycle. The growing gap between the server and desktop CPU designs hardly matters for server users because for them the number of CPU cores is more important than their microarchitecture.

So, today, you can upgrade to the Ivy Bridge-E and enjoy a large number of CPUs cores, PCI Express lanes and memory channels, but you won’t get Intel’s most up-to-date CPU microarchitecture available. The question arises whether the revised LGA2011 platform can compete with the new LGA1150. To answer it, we are going to benchmark the full series of LGA2011 desktop CPUs of the model year 2013 in comparison with top-end models featuring newer CPU designs.

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