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Day 0 Support: Intel Xeon E5-2600 Processor

VMware vSphere support comes to “SandyBridge-EP


We have been working with Intel for several years to ensure “Day 0” support of the recently launched Intel Xeon E5-2600 processor series. (Often referred to by its processor codename of “SandyBridge-EP” or by its platform name of “Romley”.) This support also includes the Intel Xeon E5-1600.


VMware takes “Day 0” support very seriously.  Whenever possible, we include support in our products even before the processor and its platform actually launches. This means that the following vSphere releases already support “SandyBridge-EP”:


  • VMware vSphere 4.1 update 2 (launched in October, 2011)
  • VMware vSphere 5.0 GA (launched in August, 2011)
  • VMware vSphere 5.0 update 1 (launched on March 15, 2012)


I would like to congratulate all the internal teams inside VMware who have worked so long to make this possible. And special mention goes to our Hardware Enablement Quality Engineering team who demonstrated amazing flexibility amidst ever-changing hardware and software schedules.


We also worked closely with Intel’s server OEM partners to successfully qualify and certify their Intel Xeon E5-2600 servers by launch time. These servers are already starting to list on VMware’s Compatibility Guide [1].


With this launch, today’s mainstream 2-socket server from Intel is now an Intel Xeon E5-2600 server running VMware vSphere 5.0. A fully loaded version is typically at 256-GiB of DRAM using 16-GiB DDR3-1600 DIMMs. Eighteen months ago, the mainstream 2-socket server from Intel was an Intel Xeon 5600 (“Westmere-EP”) server running VMware vSphere 4.1. The fully loaded version was typically at 96-GiB of DRAM using 8-GiB DDR3-1333 DIMMs.


Eighteen months can really make a difference in performance. Today’s fully loaded 2-socket Intel server can show as much as a 45% performance improvement for VMware VMmark 2.1 relative to the fully loaded 2-socket Intel server of 18 months ago [2][3][4].


Although the performance uplift is due in large part to the higher number of cores, larger L3 cache, and better Instructions-Per-Cycle performance of the Intel Xeon E5-2600, there are other contributing factors. The new processor contains a quad-channel memory controller capable of driving more memory DIMMs and at higher frequency (DDR3-1600). In addition, there are more links possible between the two processor sockets (up to 2 QPI links) operating at a higher frequency  which can improve the latency and bandwidth of one processor accessing the DRAM and cache of the other. The inclusion of SSDs for fast storage is another contributor. Lastly, VMware has made some improvements in vSphere performance between vSphere 4.1 and vSphere 5.0. All of these factors together provide the 45% performance improvement in the VMmark 2.1 score noted above.


Throughout 2012, Intel will be launching more processors and we will be right there at each launch with “Day 0” support. Congratulations to Intel on this important processor launch!



Richard A. Brunner
Chief Platform Architect
CTO Office, VMware







    (Note the actual server with vSphere 4.1 was available starting in August of 2010)



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