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I'm talking to a representative of a hardware company trying to sell me a new server and he's adamant that the E5504 CPU which is a Quad core 2Ghz with 4mb cache would be faster than our existing Q6600 CPU which is a Core2 Quad core 2.4Ghz with 8mb cache.,40711,

Am i missing something?

The system will be used to run a CPU intensive process which performs many simple calculations at the highest possible rate, storing the results in a database. The database is then used for many index scans and complex queries.

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What are you going to be using the box for Server(Virtulization, SQL, etc) type workloads or Desktop type workloads? – Zypher Dec 16 '09 at 5:04
added ^ hope that helps. – pstanton Dec 16 '09 at 5:29
Ask the salesman to put it in writing and have the sale dependent on provable results. – John Gardeniers Dec 16 '09 at 6:30
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Then yes absolutely the E5504. The one big change is that the Nehalem based procs use Intel QPI As well as have much better Memory throughput.

Although I would look at at least the E5520 given you use case so you have the added benefit of hyperthreading on each of the 4 cores allowing you to have 8 threads running.

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I'd like to second the E5520 the hyperthreading will make a large difference in CPU intensive applications. – Dave Holland Dec 16 '09 at 6:03
And the overall memory performance improvements of the 5500 series (QPI, shared L3 cache, on-die triple channel memory controllers) should boost database performance significantly. That said Chopper3 is right - the E5504 is seriously hamstrung compared to the E5520, especially since the price difference isn't that large. – Helvick Dec 16 '09 at 8:45
@Dave Holland: "hyperthreading will make a large difference in CPU intensive applications" Any references on that? I read that hyperthreading has very limited benefits because of cache contention; it may even make code slower, if they fight for the cache. – sleske Dec 16 '09 at 9:25

As Zypher says you will see very significant performance gains across the board by going for the Xeon, the micro-architecture itself of the 55xx-series is much quicker than any of Intel's predecessors, the memory is also much faster.

That said the E5504 is the runt of the pack without hyperthreading, if you afford to spend a little more then go for an E5520, not only is the clock speed quicker but you get HT, 1/1/1/2 turbo modes and the QPI is faster too - and it's not that much more expensive.

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