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Intel Xeon X5680 Processor

The top-end hexacore model based on the 32nm Gulftown die.

March 23, 2010



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Tests

The test method (the list of software and test conditions) is described here. To make the diagrams easier to read, the results are represented in percent (100% stand for the result of Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 in each test). The detailed results and absolute values are provided in this spreadsheet.

3D visualization



The very first tests bring the first disillusionments. In the normal mode, X5680 can't even catch up with Core i7-965 EE. And it only outperforms the latter a bit, with HT disabled. Core i7-975 EE remains the leader, with a noticeable difference as well. Why is that so? Firstly, we know that these tests do not need more than cores. So, hexacore CPUs are in even worse position than quadcore. Secondly, these tests like cache. Though they do not need more than 8 MB, so Gulftown demonstrates no boost. Moreover, there's a performance drop. Having increased L3 cache, they probably couldn't make it as fast as it had been. On the other hand, we've never expected X5680 to win in this group anyway.

3D rendering



Here, however, we got what we had expected. As you can see, even with Hyper-Threading disabled, the hexacore Gulftown easily defeats Bloomfield of the same clock rate that has HT enabled. Enabling Hyper-Threading for X5680 does improve the results, but just by 10%. The reason is Maya. We have already found out that its multicore scalability features are limited. So, it started to show in single-CPU machines as well. With HT disabled, X5680 performs better than it does with HT enabled. So you see, even professional applications are not perfectly optimized. Anyway, the victory is convincing. Adding cores, they managed not to make a mess of all the rest.

Scientific calculations



These applications are less sensitive to cache than those in the first group. But they still don't need more than two cores. As a result, with HT enabled, X5680 was slightly outperformed by Core i7-975 EE.

Bitmap processing



Xeon X5680 managed to overcome the hardships and win. Mostly thanks to the great performance boost demonstrated in Paint.NET, which is related to the .NET environment. And due to Photoshop's partial optimization for multicore configurations. In other applications, new CPUs performed worse than the old ones, just as we expected.

Data compression



Cache did become slower. This completely negated the joy inspired by its larger size. Therefore, Gulftown lost on points. Though the lag was so small, you might as well disregard it at all.

Compilation (VC++)



All right, Xeon X5680 showed who was the best. The whole picture reminds us of 3D rendering. Even with HT disabled, the former leader is outperformed. Enabling HT results in the completely different performance.


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