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at the crossroads of two worlds / Processors and memory

Sad, but never-ending battles of fans of AMD and Intel processors have been in the past. Today, it’s very easy to answer the question, which processor is more profitable to buy for a productive desktop system. AMD has practically refused to compete with Intel in the upper price segments, and therefore, starting at about $ 150, there is really no choice. Any suitable processor of the Core family of the latest generation will be the best option, not due to some of its undeniable advantages, but it’s trite because of the lack of worthy alternatives. However, among all this simplicity, it is still possible to find a sufficient occasion for discussion.

The fact is that Intel offers at the same time not one, but several platforms for desktop computers, which can be partly similar in their field of application. And it’s not about the fact that in the market at the same time are the previous and following platforms, differing in their characteristics and speed is not so noticeable. Here it’s just simple, because if you compare, for example, LGA1155 and LGA1150, then the choice in any case is to do in favor of a second, newer version – more promising and even a little, but still more productive. We are pushed by Intel itself, which is shaping its pricing policy in such a way that new platforms, the output of which is synchronized with the full cycle in the tick-to-tak strategy, do not cost more than their predecessors. In other words, pay attention to aging products, when they have a more modern replacement, there is no rational sense.

The logical reason for the choice is due to the fact that for the most productive desktops Intel offers not the usual common LGA1150-processors of the Haswell generation, but specialized high-end CPUs with the Haswell-E design in the quasi-server form factor LGA2011-v3. Formally, the LGA1150 and LGA2011-v3 platforms do not intersect in terms of positioning, as Intel tried to divide them into different price segments. But in fact, the difference in the cost of the older processor for LGA1150 (Core i7-4790K) and the low-end processor for LGA2011-v3 (Core i7-5820K) is not so important – it does not exceed 15 percent. Of course, one should also take into account the fact that the accompanying ecosystem for the LGA2011-v3 processor will cost a little more, however, this difference in price for many may not be of decisive importance. Therefore, here and there you can hear a completely reasonable question about which version of the system is better to prefer for certain purposes – many users are ready to seriously consider the Core i7-5820K in LGA2011-v3 performance as an alternative to the Core i7-4790K. And if so, then we decided to devote a separate study to this issue.

⇡ # Read more about Core i7-5820K

Intel’s way to release just such as Core i7-5820K, the junior processor for a high-performance platform was not easy. Its first predecessor from the family Sandy Bridge-E, Core i7-3820, which appeared in early 2012, was a four-core processor that did not even have an unlocked multiplier. In the next generation, Ivy Bridge-E, the younger processor Core i7-4820K got overclocking capabilities, but still, like the older Core i7 processors in the LGA1155-performance, I was satisfied with only four cores. The most significant step forward was made only with the commissioning of the LGA2011-v3 platform and Haswell-E processor design, as a result of which the Core i7-5820K became a full-fledged six-core CPU with a full set of overclocking properties. Thus, today’s junior processor for Intel’s high-performance desktop platform can finally boast fundamentally better characteristics than the older processor for a common platform, if only because it has 1.5 times more computing cores.

So the Core i7-5820K is interesting. In relation to older processors for LGA1150, it is a representative of another weight category, but its recommended cost is set at around $ 389, while Core i7-4790K is estimated by the manufacturer for only $ 50 cheaper – at $ 339. A very small extra charge for two additional cores, is not it? But in addition, the Core i7-5820K can boast a more capacious cache memory of the third level, the volume of which reaches 15 MB.

However, the presence of additional cores has a downside – lower clock speeds. Passport frequency of the younger Haswell-E is set at a rather modest level – 3.3 GHz, which is 700 MHz less than the clock speed Core i7-4790K. Of course, while the Core i7-5820K has Turbo Boost technology implemented, it can also increase the frequency only to 3.6 GHz, while the older Devil’s Canyon accelerates to 4.4 GHz when the turbo mode is activated.

As the Core i7-5820K belongs to the LGA2011-v3 platform, it’s easy to guess about its other major differences from LGA1150-processors. Firstly, the younger representative of the Haswell-E family quite naturally has a four-channel memory controller that supports DDR4 SDRAM. However, it would be wrong to call this an unequivocal advantage. At this stage DDR4-memory is rather weak, and it does not give a tangible increase in performance. The markup, which will have to pay for the novelty of such memory, will at best be 50-60 percent.

Secondly, the Core i7-5820K in comparison with the conventional Haswell has a more advanced PCI Express 3.0 controller, supporting not 16 but 28 lines. This feature can be useful for gamers using multi-GPU configurations, or for enthusiasts wishing to form a productive disk subsystem based on RAID controllers or solid-state disk drives of server class with PCI Express interface. Moreover, only LGA2011-v3 processors (and Core i7-5820K among them) can support the operation of three PCI Express 3.0 slots at the same time, which makes it possible to assemble three-component SLI or CrossfireX configurations on the system based on them. However, it should be borne in mind that, more expensive than the Core i7-5820K, the processors for LGA2011-v3 provide the user with even more lines of PCI Express – 40. But for the vast majority of cases available in the younger Haswell-E, 28 lines will be enough . For example, the difference in the speed of a two-component multi-GPU system with a full PCI Express 16x + 16x slot and with a PCI Express 16x + 8x provided with the Core i7-5820K is virtually invisible.

Speaking about what other differences exist in Haswell-E and Haswell, we can not fail to mention the lack of a high-performance processors for LGA2011-v3 built-in graphics core. Of course, users of systems in the upper price range will not be upset at all, but there is one subtlety. The lack of a built-in GPU also means the absence of the Quick Sync function, which could be useful for the Core i7-5820K, as it allows very fast and low-cost video transcoding.

Nevertheless, if you sum everything up, the Core i7-5820K looks like a very attractive proposition. This processor is only slightly inferior in its characteristics to the 600-dollar Core i7-5930K, which means that you can expect about the same performance as the recent flagship, the Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition of the Ivy Brige-E generation. But now, when for $ 1, 000 enthusiasts are offered eight-core processors, the price of such high processing power has significantly decreased – the six-core processors have become much closer to the people.

Let’s refresh the memory features of current Intel processors with an unlocked multiplier related to the Core i7 series:

Core i7-5960X Core i7-5930K Core i7-5820K Core i7-4790K
The code name Haswell-E Haswell-E Haswell-E Devil’s Canyon
Kernels / streams 8/16 6/12 6/12 4/8
Hyper-Threading Technology There are There are There are There are
The clock speed 3.0 GHz 3.5 GHz 3.3 GHz 4.0 GHz
The maximum frequency in the turbo mode 3.5 GHz 3.7 GHz 3.6 GHz 4.4 GHz
Unlocked multiplier There are There are There are There are
TDP 140 W 140 W 140 W 88 W
The lines of PCI Express 3.0 40 40 28 16
HD Graphics No No No HD Graphics 4600
L3-cache 20MB 15MB 15MB 8 MB
Memory support 4 channels
DDR4-2133
4 channels
DDR4-2133
4 channels
DDR4-2133
2 channels
DDR3-1600
Extensions of the instruction set AVX2 AVX2 AVX2 AVX2
The packaging LGA2011-v3 LGA2011-v3 LGA2011-v3 LGA1150
Price $ 999 $ 583 $ 389 $ 339

As it follows from the table above, the operating frequencies of the Core i7-5820K range from 3.3 to 3.6 GHz. But according to the diagnostic utility CPU-Z, the actual operating frequency of the Core i7-5820K under a high load is almost always 3.4 GHz.

If the load falls on one or two computational cores, then this frequency can increase to 3.6 GHz.

The operating voltages of the Core i7-5820K, like those of the older Haswell-E processors, are low: about 1.03-1.08 V. The Uncore part of the processor, which includes the L3 cache and the memory controller, in nominal mode operates at a frequency of 3.0 GHz. This frequency is the same for all members of the Haswell-E series.

Curiously, the Core i7-5820K, like the other Haswell-E models, is based on an eight-core semiconductor chip with an area of ​​356 mm 2 . However, a pair of cores, together with the corresponding part of the cache memory, is disconnected at the production stage, and in fact it is a matter of the fact that six-core processors use rejection from the production of eight-core processors. This fact explains exactly the very similar behavior of all Haswell-E processors, which, for example, manifests itself during their overclocking.

⇡ # Dispersal

Despite the fact that the Core i7-5820K is the younger representative in the Haswell-E lineup, it has all the same overclocking capabilities as its more expensive counterparts. That is, firstly, its multiplication factor is unlocked, and secondly, the multipliers responsible for the formation of the memory frequency and Uncore-block are not fixed. In addition, the processor allows you to choose between three variants of the base frequency – 100, 125 or 166 MHz, for which the frequency dividers DMI and PCI Express are optimized. As for the supply voltage of the computational cores and all the nodes adjacent to them, it is formed by a stabilizer built into the processor.

Like its older counterparts, the Core i7-5820K also has its case: the heat dissipating cap is attached to the semiconductor chip by soldering, which is considered the best option in terms of the efficiency of the heat sink. And in this case, you can say this with complete certainty: Japanese enthusiasts tried to scalp an instance of such a processor and not only personally convinced themselves of the presence of solder under the lid, but also captured what they saw on memorable photos.

However, despite all this, we can not say that the Core i7-5820K was able to please us with the results of its overclocking. The fact that it is based exactly on the same semiconductor crystal as in the older Haswell-E, has caused its similar behavior with increasing frequency and voltage beyond their nominal values. Unfortunately, excessive heating, which we noted while testing the Core i7-5960X and Core i7-5930K, again made it impossible to achieve any outstanding results. And we used one of the best air coolers for our heat dissipation – the two-section Noctua NH-D15 tower – in front of six cores with Haswell microarchitecture was powerless even with only 25% overclocking.

As a result, the stable functioning of the Core i7-5820K was possible only at a frequency of 4.1 GHz and with an increase in the supply voltage to 1.225 V. Further overclocking with such a supply voltage led to a loss of stability, and an increase in voltage was not possible due to the emerging while the processor overheats. During the same tests of stability with a frequency of 4.1 GHz, the temperature of our Core i7-5820K reached 95 degrees, which can be considered quite acceptable temperature for Haswell-E, as the throttling of these CPUs is switched on when heated to 105 degrees.

Please note, to check the overclocking, we use the LinX 0.6.5 utility with support for AVX2-instructions – this program is suitable for checking the overclocking LGA2011-v3-systems in the best way. The fact is that AVX2-instructions are still not widely used in common programs, but they cause unrestrained heating of processor cores with Haswell microarchitecture. And this means that if LinX 0.6.5 processor core i7-5820K maintains its stability, then problems in other cases will not arise almost certainly.

Unfortunately, the overclocking potential of the Core i7-5820K proved to be no better than those of the Core i7-5960X and Core i7-5930K processors that visited our lab before that. All this unambiguously indicates that all Haswell-E – a single berries field. And the fact that six-core family members use crystals that for some reason did not pass the selection for full-fledged eight-core modifications, well explains the low acceleration of the younger Core i7-5820K. In other words, the 25 percent increase in clock frequency that we received in the process of overclocking experiments is not an unfortunate exception to the rule, but a legitimate result reflecting the general trend. In the sense of the most accessible clock speeds, the low-end six-core for the LGA2011-v3 platform is seriously inferior to the older Devil’s Canyon, although they are based on the same Haswell microarchitecture.

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