Electronic Design

Intel S5000XVN Hosts Dual Quad-Core Xeons

A pair of Xeon 5300 series processors (Fig. 1) will find a nice home on Intel’s S5000XVN motherboard (Fig. 2). Our test system employed a pair of 3.0GHz, 65nm X5365 Xeon processors that plug into a LGA771 socket. The 5300 series has been the workhorse for high-end workstations and servers for 2007. It is a quad-core processor that has an 8Mbyte L2 cache. The system splits the cores and L2 cache with two cores sharing 4Mbytes of L2 cache. They are tied together via the front side bus. This is not as flexible as the forthcoming 5400 Penryn quad cores that tie all four cores together. The front side bus runs at 1333MHz and the chip supports Intel’s latest Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) and I/O Acceleration (Intel I/OAT) technology. Intel VT is required to run unaltered host operating systems such as Windows using virtual machine managers (VMM) such as Xen (See Virtual Embedding). Only the latest crop of Intel chips provide VT support but it is standard from this point forward. Although Xeons wind up in high-end systems with plenty of power, power management remains a critical factor. Intel’s demand-based switching (DBS) is integrated with its SpeedStep technology to allow control of each core’s power and clock rates. This was especially useful in the X5365 that can dissipate as much as 120W. The S5000XVN motherboard can handle the 1333MHz bus speeds using the 5000X chipset. The chipset includes support for an x16 PCI Express slot and an x8 interface that can support a pair of x4 interfaces. There are two PCI slots as well. The BIOS does not support overclocking. The board’s four memory channels can handle up to 32Gbytes in eight fully buffered DIMMs (FBDIMM). FBDIMMs provide better signal integrity but with slightly more latency. They are required in most server environments and high-end workstations. In theory, they can provide improved bandwidth over their non-buffered counterparts. The motherboard handles up to 6 SATA or 2 SATA and 4 SATA/SAS drives. The latter configuration supports RAID5 if you have the optional RAID key installed. RAID 0 and 1 are supported in the standard configuration including support for SATA RAID configurations. There is also a single IDE port for handling optical drives. There are a pair of Gigabit Ethernet connections on-board. There is also AC97, two channel audio and support for Trusted Platform Management 1.2 via an STM Microelectronics module. There are 4 rear, 2 front panel and an internal USB port. The motherboard support supports the usual PS/2 keyboard and mouse. One of the 2 serial ports can be found on the rear panel. The S5000XVN is targeted at the mid-range systems versus those needing more expansion slots or built-in video. As such, it fits the target space very well with plenty of memory expansion and high performance networking built-in. Related Links Intel

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