The various dual and quad core platforms have certainly taken power users to new level of performance, as multi-threaded operating systems and applications have benefited from the additional cores, and multi-tasking has never been smoother. The transition of entry-level desktops (and even laptops) to a dual core configuration has also sped up the development of multi-threaded software and games, giving hardware enthusiasts even greater performance gains. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Intel has also introduced quad core Xeon processors, which at 3.0 GHz match the fastest desktop Core 2, and these support multi-processor server and workstation platforms. This paves the way for dual-CPU, 8-core systems, and Intel has done just that with their Xeon X5365 V8 platform.
True to its name, the Xeon X5365 V8 offers 8-cores comprised of dual Xeon processors on a workstation motherboard. The flagship Xeon X5365 processors run at 3.0 GHz, and use the same 1333 MHz bus as the latest Core 2 models. Each processor features 4 cores and includes 8MB (2x4MB) of L2 cache. This places the Xeon X5365 V8 right at the top of the Intel performance scale, and is very similar to a Core 2 quad core, but uses the Socket 771 interface. It is also dual processor compatible, run on a 1.4V input voltage, and has a TDP of 120W. The Xeon X5365 supports Intel SpeedStep, XD Disable Bit, Intel Virtualization, and Intel 64 technologies.
The second part of the Xeon X5365 V8 platform is the motherboard, which in this case is the Intel S5000XVN workstation board. This model uses the Intel 5000X chipset and supports 667/1066/1333 MHz dual and quad core Xeon processors in a dual-CPU format. It offers eight fully-buffered DDR2-533/667 DIMM sockets (up to 32GB), one PCI Express x16 slot, two PCI Express x4 slots, and two PCI-X slots. Storage options include Parallel ATA, SATA 3.0 Gb/s, and even SAS (the last two with RAID), while offering standard Gigabit LAN and 2-channel HD audio.
The Intel S5000XVN workstation board supports the larger Extended ATX format, which means using a more expansive system case. We had some initial difficulty in this area, and had to cannibalize our ThermalTake Armor VA8000BWS for the job. Another interesting feature of the Intel 5000X is that its memory controller hub provides dual independent buses at 1066 and 1333 MHz, which support the two Xeon processors. The two buses can deliver a total throughput of up to 17 GB/second at 1066 MHz and 21 GB/second at 1333 MHz. These are amazing numbers, and may well come in handy in some tasks, but other applications and games tend to reward memory speed.