INTEL XEON E5 AND E7 SERVER PROCESSORS
If you're setting up a server, or choosing a cloud provider, you might want to know about the processors that go in to the machines. Which is better, and which should be used for which purpose? Have all the facts when you shop for a provider by reading on.
It’s worth mentioning before we start that the Xeon E7 and E5 processors have strong pedigrees – IBM, Dell and Amazon, who are among the largest cloud management companies, use Intel Xeon processors in their rented server space. So either one is going to be a strong option.
The E5. You might consider the E5 to be the ‘baby'of the line, especially where compared with the E7. It’s a newer processor design, which means higher optimization, and was released only in the second quarter of 2012. The processors are designed for affordable scalability, and as such are less expensive or complex to deploy than their bigger brother. It’s optimized for 2-socket performance, though it can happily take up to 4. This means that virtualization is a viable project for E5-based servers. Memory constraints are not gargantuan, but do come in at the Olympic level of 768GB (on 2 sockets) or 1.5TB on 4 sockets. They are reliable and efficient, with sizeable 20MB on-die caches. If your cloud operation is smaller scale or relies on flexible scalability, cloud providers with E5-based machines may offer all the operating headroom you require – even if you anticipate surges or shortfalls in customers say, throughout certain periods of the day.
The E7. This is the granddaddy of Intel Xeon processors. It is ‘top-of-the line’, according to Intel, and undoubtedly offers some of the best virtualization experiences possible today. Intel claims that it has ‘near native'Virtual Machine capabilities, which means that it is worth considering for intensive or interactivity-rich cloud applications.
Offered are 10-core processors – capable of processing up to 20 threads simultaneously – on between 2 and 256 sockets. That limits your maximum RAM to 4TB, and it’s hard to think of a use for any higher figures. For Mission-Critical or high data demand uses, the E7 is likely the processor that you will want to be using.
So which should you select? This depends on your use. Intel recommends the E5 for ‘standard infrastructure'projects. That covers, to be honest, the vast majority of cloud programs on the market today. The E7 is almost exclusively reserved for high-capacity computing and mission critical tasks (because of its increased power and reliability). Of course, if you really have the cash to splash, you can branch out to Intel’s super-premium Itanium 9000 sequence-based servers. It’s hard to think of many uses in which it would be more cost-effective to deploy these behemoths – they support up to an astonishing 1024TB (a petabyte) of RAM and reside almost exclusively on the UNIX platform (with support for Windows and Linux).
Hopefully this article has given a bit of insight in to your cloud provider’s hardware. If you have any comments or questions, please pop them in the thread below.