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Why Should I Upgrade to an Intel Xeon Processor?
July 26, 2019
It’s frustrating when you’re opening up a large application on your computer, and it’s taking so long to open that you could basically slip away to the grocery store, or the bank, or even the DMV, and get back before it’s loaded. If that’s the case, it might be time for you to upgrade your processor.
Intel® produces some of the best CPUs on the market. The Intel Core™ series is their most popular line of processors, but you should seriously consider upgrading to one of their Intel Xeon® processors. An Intel Xeon is great for high-performance workstations, and it’s a necessity for any professional who works with large amounts of critical data.
Let’s answer your questions about the Intel Xeon series.
What is an Intel Xeon processor?
An Intel Xeon processor is one of Intel’s state-of-the-art central processing units (CPU). In many ways, they’re similar to the Intel Core processors. And in some respects, they’re more advanced.
Here’s a quick rundown if you’re unfamiliar with what a CPU does. The CPU performs various tasks on your computer, from running software programs to making calculations.
The key component of every processor is the core. The core reads instructions that are sent to it from the other computer components, and it also writes instructions for those components. The more cores that a processor has, the more instructions it’s able to read and write, and the faster it’s able to run programs.
The Intel Xeon processors are definitely power processors. They have a large number of cores, and they also have special features that make them great for running intensive programs and mission-critical tasks. Arguably the most important of these features is error-correcting code memory.
What is error-correcting code (ECC) memory?
Error-correcting code (ECC) memory is a feature that helps prevent soft errors from occurring while the processor is reading and writing information.
What is a soft error?
Remember that the smallest unit of data is called a “bit.” Each bit is basically an electrical pulse (value of 1), or lack thereof (value of 0). The CPU reads incoming bits, but soft errors occur when the data is read differently than intended.
Why do soft errors occur?
There are lots of theories as to why soft errors occur. Some engineers believe that fluctuations in electricity flow can inadvertently change the value of bits, while others believe it has to do with electromagnetic interference from the computer. Regardless, know that individual bits can be written or read incorrectly due to the wild nature of electricity and electromagnetism.
Can soft errors harm your data?
You bet they can. Soft errors can harm your data in several different ways. They could have the most consequential effects for businesses that need to store critical information. For example, let’s say you have a business that sells products to consumers. When a consumer makes a purchase on their credit card, a soft error could result in the transaction data being misread (the credit card is charged too much or too little), or it could cause the data to be lost. In either case, you’d lose money or you’d make the customer unhappy.
If you’re a healthcare provider, your computer servers must store patients’ personal and medical information. Soft errors could result in important medical information being incorrectly entered or not entered at all.
But soft errors can also affect the average PC user. Let’s say you’re transferring photos from your digital camera onto your computer. A soft error might result in one of your photos being “corrupted;” in other words, it doesn’t get transferred to your computer properly and you can’t view it. If you deleted all the photos from your camera without knowing about the corrupted file, you’d lose that photo forever.
Worst of all, a single soft error could potentially cause an entire computer system to crash, which could result in catastrophic data loss.
How does ECC protect my data?
The Intel Xeon processor has a core that’s dedicated solely to detecting errors while data is being written or read. The core uses a system called “parity” to do its work.
How does parity work?
Before data is processed, the core attaches extra bits that give the data a new value. After the data has been processed, the core compares the new value with the original value. If they’re not equal (hence the term, “parity”), then the core knows that a processing error occurred. The core can shuffle through the bits and figure out which one was incorrectly read.
The same process is employed when the CPU is writing data.
Can hyperthreading be enabled on Intel Xeon processors?
Hyperthreading can be enabled on Intel Xeon processors, which immensely increases its processing power.
Here’s a brief overview of hyperthreading if you’re unsure exactly what it is. Typically, each core in a processor can process one incoming stream of data. When a CPU has hyperthreading, its cores can simultaneously process two data streams instead of just one. This means that the CPU can process more data at a faster speed, which is important if you’re trying to run intensive programs.
The most powerful Intel Xeon processors have 18 cores, and with hyperthreading, they’ve got the processing power of 36 cores.
How does the Intel Xeon compare vs. Intel Core processors?
Here are the advantages that Intel Xeon has over Intel Core:
- Higher maximum core count
- Can handle heavier loads
- More durable
- Built with ECC RAM
Furthermore, the Intel Xeon is equipped with a large CPU cache, which is extra memory that the CPU can draw upon to speed up applications. The Intel Core processors have CPU caches, too, but the Intel Xeon cache nearly doubles the amount. There's no question that Intel Core CPUs are excellent components, the Intel Xeon is simply a step up in power.
Is Intel Xeon good for workstations?
Intel Xeon is practically built for workstation computers. The large number of cores and advanced RAM functions give it enough processing power and speed to handle the most intensive creative applications, from computer-aided design (CAD) to 4K video editing to 3D rendering.
Is Intel Xeon good for gaming?
The Intel Xeon is great for gaming computers, but note that Xeon processors can’t be overclocked. Overclocking is when a CPU operates at a faster speed than its base programming was designed for, and gamers use it intermittently to keep their games running at ultra-fast speeds. Some Intel Core processors can be overclocked, but no Intel Xeon processor can at the moment.
But that doesn’t mean that either processor is the only one to peg as better for gaming CPUs. The Intel Xeon has extraordinary processing power and speed so you wouldn’t even have to rely on overclocking to run games at their highest settings. But, bear in mind that a Core CPU can provide great gaming, plus overclocking ability, at possibly a reduced cost.
One thing to keep in mind if you choose an Intel Core processor is that they may have integrated graphics which isn’t good for gaming. While many gaming computers with a Core CPU have a dedicated GPU, Intel Xeon processors require a dedicated graphics card, so you’ll get phenomenal graphics and performance when you pair it with a solid GPU in your gaming rig.
If overclocking is important for you, you should check out the Intel Core i7 gaming laptops. Otherwise, it may make sense to upgrade to an Intel Xeon processor.
About the Author: Zach Cabading is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Zach is a content creation specialist based in Southern California, and creates a variety of content for the tech industry.