Intel Xeon 3.2 w/ 2MB L3 cache
Posted on: 04/06/2004 05:00 AM

A while back we looked at Intel's 3.2GHz processor with 1MB of L3 cache. It was Intel's attempt at continuing to wring additional performance out of their existing processor technology. Since it was a success with the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, they brought the wonders of the Gallatin core over to the Xeon. We did point out some issues with the cache structure, though. Since the L caches on Intel processors are inclusive (meaning the contents of L1 is mapped into L2 and so forth) we were really only realizing 50% of the added L3 cache in that processor. How did Intel respond? By slapping even more L3 cache on the processor of course! This time around we're looking at Intel's 3.2GHz Xeon with a whopping 2MB of L3 cache. What impact will this have on workstation and server performance? That's what we're going to try to figure out today.

There's no doubt in my mind that Intel is going to sell a lot of these processors in OEM servers and workstations. Since the 533MHz FSB Xeon has been around for awhile now, system builders are going to be able to slap these processors into existing motherboards with only a BIOS update required in most cases. I'm curious about whether or not these Xeons with ever-increasing amounts of L3 cache would be justifiable for you and me as end users. We don't enjoy bulk pricing like large OEMs such as Dell or IBM so we know that if we're interested in a pair of these processors we're going to have to pony up and drop some serious cash. The 1MB L3 cache parts run at around ~800 USD as per pricewatch so we can probably expect these 2MB parts to fall in somewhere around 1,000 USD. Multiply that by two and you're dealing with a rather large investment.

Let's take a look at the processor specifications and then we can move on to the fun topics like L3 cache and performance.

The Specs

Intel Xeon with 2MB L3 Cache
Available Speeds
Workstation Chipset
Intel E7505, Intel i875P
Server Chipsets
Intel E7501, Serverworks GC-LE and GC-HE
Dual Channel DDR
I/O Bandwidth
Up to 4.3GB/second
System Bus Frequency
533MHz System Bus
Features Hyper-threading, SSE2, Rapid Execution Engine
Socket Socket 604

There's nothing overly new and exciting here for us to talk about. The only thing I should probably mention again is the i875P chipset. Yes, that was originally created by Intel to be a uniprocessor-only chipset. However, a couple of manufacturers have thrown caution to the wind and produced dual Xeon boards based on the more affordable chipset. Asus has its PC-DL Deluxe and Iwill has recently brought us the DH800. I received my DH800 last week and plan on having a review of that board available in the near future. It's the next thing on my list.

Let's talk about the L3 cache, shall we?

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