Power Consumption and Conclusions
Coupling the fact that we are using a faster processor with a faster FSB, AND we are using double the processors, you would no doubt expect the power consumption of the Intel “V8” system to be the highest of the four systems we tested on. Hey, turns out we were right! At idle, the “V8” only uses 40-50 watts more than the other systems but at full load (tested under CineBench) it uses more than double the power of the X6800 computer.
The performance of the new eight-core Intel “V8” platform varies greatly depending on the application that you are benchmarking it on; more so than on any other platform we have tested to date. Where as we actually saw SLOWER performance on tests like WinRAR and even our synthetic SiSoft memory test, we saw better than a 100% increase over current quad-core computers in POV-Ray.
Software that can take advantage of even four processing cores is pretty rare and those that use eight are even hard to come by. Certain application types like POV-Ray and other rendering applications that deal with highly-parallel data sets can always use more horsepower and we saw the results of that in some of tests. POV-Ray wasn’t the only recipient of a big performance boost: CineBench 9.5 and even some of the Photoshop filters saw 75%+ performance gains over a quad-core system running at a slightly slower clock speed. Other apps that I am sure will see benefits would include 3D Studio Max, AutoCAD and media creation appliacations for video and audio that we didn’t test here.
Other than software, the memory system does hold back the performance a bit on the Intel “V8” system quite a bit. The FB-DIMMs are slower by default thanks to ECC but then to run them at 667 MHz where the other systems used DDR2-800 gives the consumer-based systems a hefty performance boost. I couldn’t try overclocking these modules any as the BIOS wouldn’t allow it but I do wonder how much more the “V8” could have run with some lower latencies and faster memory modules.
Another down fall for the 8-core Intel “V8”, and especially AMD’s QuadFX system, is found when you look at the performance per watt metric. It is common knowledge that the more processing power you want, the more you are going to have pay in power as the performance increases. As you approach the bleeding edge of technology like we see here on the Intel “V8” platform that cost for performance gets pretty steep. The power consumption under load was 423 watts on our V8 test bed while it was only 254 watts for the QX6700. In those instances when performance was NOT 75%+ faster, the extra power required to run the dual processor system simply tips the performance per watt scales towards the QX6700 and X6800 CPUs.
Pricing and Availability
The Intel Xeon X5365 processor won’t be widely available until the third quarter of this year but the motherboard we used in our testing can be found online today for about $600 depending if you want SATA support or Serial-Attached-Storage. Newegg also has both SATA and SAS versions.
The current top of the line Xeon CPU, the X5355 that runs at 2.66 GHz on a 1333 MHz FSB, is selling for just under $1200. If we transpose that price to the upcoming X5365 as the new top-end Xeon processor in that family, then we can assume that it too will fit in at the $1200 price point. That makes the entire system configuration including the processors, motherboard and memory price out at something like $3400. For comparison, you can get a QX6700, an Intel 975XBX2 and 4GB of memory for $1600-1700.
It would be easy to look at the pricing and the benchmarks and conclude that the Intel “V8” platform experiment is a complete waste of time and shouldn’t even be considered by our readers. But, there are a couple of points for which Intel needs to have an option out there with these features. First: AMD will have it too. Their QuadFX platform will soon offer 8-core systems once their quad-core Barcelona and Agena processors begin to ship late in the year. Intel decided to steal the show by presenting their 8-core system much ealrier than AMD could – and you can buy this hardware now (or very soon at least).
Secondly, even though very few of you will see the advantages of running an 8-way system, there is still a group of individuals that WILL be able utilize all the power this kind of system presents. Home-based AutoCAD users, heavy media creation users or rendering artists that have some extra cash will surely see substantial productivity increases when moving to an Intel “V8” system configuration. It’s not for everyone; but it is for someone.
In the end, I have to be both inspired and disappointed by the power the Intel “V8” system presents. We can now dream for the games and other software that will take advantage of this kind of processing power on a daily basis while also tapping our toes impatiently waiting for it.
Be sure to use our price checking engine to find the best prices on the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processors, and anything else you may want to buy!