Harpertown Performance Preview

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Harpertown, especially in conjunction with the Seaburg chipset, is a noticeable improvement over the previous generation 65nm products. While the design team did not have the luxury of fully re-evaluating the architecture, the changes they made yielded IPC improvements between 5-20%, and a slight frequency boost. The faster front-side bus is particularly beneficial for many HPC workloads – an area that has been weak for Intel in the last several years.

While we did not get to measure power efficiency this time around, results from other sites are quite impressive. A fully loaded 3GHz Harpertown consumes about the same power as a 2.33GHz Clovertown, but delivers vastly more performance. The situation looks even better at idle, where a 3GHz Harpertown has a similar power draw to a low-power 2GHz Clovertown. This doesn’t quite make up for the power draw of FB-DIMMs, but it certainly helps to close the gap with AMD’s registered DDR2 based systems in terms of efficiency.

The Stoakley platform holds some key improvements for workstations and HPC such as Dual graphics cards or 10GBE. Together with the power and performance improvements, it seems like Intel is poised to make some advances in the workstation and HPC market – traditionally AMD’s stronghold. On the server side, Harpertown will put Intel even further ahead of Barcelona performance-wise. Of course, this is all just a preview and fortunately, we will only have to wait for a couple of days to have the official numbers.

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