Sunday, March 15, 2009

Inside Intel's Harpertown Processor

Intel’s quad-core Xeon 5400-series “Harpertown” processors run at up to 3.2GHz and are based on the new 45-nm Intel Core microarchitecture. The new chips are known for high performance and energy efficiency.

Apple’s previous Mac Pros were equipped with either a) two dual-Core Intel Xeon 5100 “Woodcrest” processors running at 2.0, 2.66, or 3.0GHz, or b) two quad-core Intel Xeon 5300 “Clovertown” processors running 3.0GHz in an “8-core” configuration. More on the whole Xeon family is here.

The biggest benefit over the previous generation Xeons are Harpertown’s 64-bit 1.6GHz dual independent frontside buses (up from 1.33GHz). These buses deliver processor bandwidth up to 25.6GB per second (up from 21.3GB/s). Then there’s 12MB per processor of L2 cache with 6MB shared between pairs of processor cores (up from 8MB per with 4MB shared).

Full benchmarks of the 3.2GHz Harpertown versus previous generation Intel Macs (like the Power Mac G5, Mac Pro Quad-core 2.66GHz and even the previous generation Mac Pro 8-core 3.0GHz) are available on Apple’s Mac Pro performance page.

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