Intel Xeon 2687W High Performance Processor

By Muhammad Faisal 0 comments
Say hello to the real Sandy Bridge E, for it is this Xeon processor that truly reveals what Intel's ultimate 32nm technology is capable of. Up to a point, anyway.

Yes, the Core i7 3960X is an impostor - a cut-down shyster of a chip. Back when Intel launched the six-core 3960X, the decision to switch off two cores in the shiny new eight-core Sandy Bridge E die was all part of a balancing act. Intel had weighed up the conflict between clockspeed and cores, and decided that the best overall compromise was six cores at 3.3GHz with a little Turbo action on top.

Running eight cores would have meant a significant drop in clock speed and therefore compromising per-core performance. Even if opening out all eight cores would mean a big drop in the clocks with all cores heavily loaded, surely the whole point of Intel's Turbo technology is that the chip could still clock up when only a handful of cores were doing the heavy lifting?

Well, now the fastest eight-core Xeon iteration of precisely the same Sandy Bridge E processor die has arrived and the truth is out. The Xeon 2687W is rated at 3.1GHz, just 200MHz slower than the six-core Core i7 3960X. Thus, the 3960X runs just six percent faster while the Xeon 2687W has 33 percent more cores.

Core, Blimey

In fact, testing suggests the 2687W will run at 3.4GHz in pretty much any scenario save idling. At standard clockspeeds, it absolutely tears the 3960X a new one and fully delivers on the promise of an eight-core Sandy Bridge-based processor.

For the record, the 2687W doesn't just bring those extra cores to the table, it also ups the cache memory ante to fully 20MB. We can just about remember when 20MB was a healthy amount for system memory, much less on-chip CPU cache memory. Oh, and if you were wondering, the 2687W dropped straight into X79 test motherboard, in this case the Gigabyte X79-UD3, without so much as a BIOS update. Nice.

That's the good news, but the bad news comes in three flavors. First, the 2687W proves what we already suspected: Intel is sandbagging with Sandy Bridge E in Core i7 trim. The only reason there isn't an eight-core version is because Intel isn't under any pressure from AMD to deliver one.

Second, there's the minor matter of price. If you thought the 3960X was bad at around $1,270, it's hard to argue that the 2687W offers value at roughly double the price. Finally, there's the question of overclocking potential. Put simply, the 2687W doesn't overclock. The multipliers are locked and it falls over if you mess around with the base clock.

That's a problem, because the 3960X running at 4.5GHz matches the 2687W's performance in most (but not all) of the benchmarks. Of course, oveclocking isn't for everyone, but if it happens to be your bag, it turns out there's little point in paying more for those extras cores.

There's really very little point spending $2,382 for the 2687W's extra cores.

Vital Statistics
Price $2,382 approx
Clockspeed 3.1GHz (3.3GHz Turbo)
Cores and threads 8 and 16
Cache 20MB
Process technology 32nm
TDP 150W
Socket LGA 2011

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