Intel Launches Xeon E Processors for Workstations

Intel announced its new Xeon E processors for the low end of the workstation market. Intel targets the new processors, which come with up to six cores and 12 threads, for professional users, such as designers, content creators, and data scientists. Ultimately the new Xeon E lineup serves as a lower-cost and lower-performance variant of Intel’s Xeon W lineup.

Intel built the new processors with the same fundamental design as its Xeon Scalable processors. The Xeon E processors appear similar to Intel’s Coffee Lake desktop models, which are also available in SKUs that range from four cores and four threads up to six cores and 12 threads, but the Xeon E models feature the revamped Skylake-X/Xeon Scalable architecture and support up to 40 PCIe Gen 3.0 lanes. Intel splits the lanes between 16 lanes connected directly to the processor, and an additional 24 lanes hang off the C426 workstation-series chipset.

The processor comes outfitted with a dual-channel memory controller and supports up to 64GB of DDR4-2666 ECC memory. Intel’s desktop models don’t support ECC memory, which protects the data held in memory with an additional layer of parity, so this is one of the key differentiating features for the workstation market. The processors also support the staples we expect in workstation-class processors, such as Intel’s vPro, which is a suite of enterprise-class management, reliability, and security features. The Xeon E models that have a “G” modifier attached to the end of the product name, such as the Xeon E-2186G, come with an integrated UHD Graphics 630 engine. Intel also offers versions with the integrated UHD Graphics P360 engine that supports up to 64GB of video memory.

The processors come outfitted with up to 12MB of L3 cache and TDP ratings that span from 71W to 95W. As with all Intel processors, the TDP ratings are derived from the base clocks, which top out at 3.8 GHz for the flagship models. Turbo Boost frequencies stretch up to a maximum of 4.7 GHz, but that increased performance comes at the cost of more power consumption. For instance, the 80W SKUs reach up to 100W during Turbo Boost, and the 95W models can pull up to 130W.

Unlike Intel’s Xeon Scalable models, which use the enterprise LGA 4367 socket, the Xeon E models drop into the familiar LGA 1151 interface. The Xeon E processors also do not support multi-socket configurations, but they do support USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10 Gb/s) and Thunderbolt 3. The processors come with Intel’s Mesh Architecture and rebalanced cache hierarchy, which is purportedly more efficient than the Ring Bus found in processors destined for desktop PCs.

Compared to the Xeon E3-1200 v6 processors, Intel claims the new processors offer up to 1.45X performance in services applications and up to 1.36X more performance in compute-intensive applications.

Overall, the Xeon E processors appear to supplant the existing Xeon E3 family, which suggests a change to Intel’s branding for the lower-end processors. Intel confirmed the processors are based on a 14nm architecture. Intel currently has 14nm, 14nm+, and 14nm++ processors on the market, but Intel isn’t sharing any details about the Xeon E’s specific process technology.

Intel says the processors are available now, and OEM systems from Dell, HP, and Lenovo are also slated for availability soon.

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