How to Mount a Processor
No matter how powerful your CPU may be, none of it matters unless you can mount it on a motherboard. This is where understanding the socket infrastructure comes into play.
What is LGA 1356?
Most Intel processors use what's called a Land Grid Array, or LGA processor socket. This is essentially an inversion of the standard PGA socket where the pins are mounted in the socket base rather than on the processor package. It's a generally more durable processor format and allows for a greater number of pins in a given area than previous PGA designs. The Romley Xeon platform uses one of two different processor interfaces:
- LGA 1356: Designed to replace LGA 1366 for desktop and workstation use, socket B2 offers support for up to dual-socket motherboards using DDR3 memory. This chipset supports 24 PCIe lanes and one high-speed QuickPath Interconnect.
- LGA 2011: Also known as Socket R, this platform offers 40 PCIe lanes and two QuickPath Interconnects, making it suitable for multi-socket implementations.
How Do You Choose an LGA 1356 Processor?
There are several factors to consider when looking for a new processor. While pure clock speed does matter quite a bit while gaming, it's less important than other factors when looking at overall system performance where you have to pay attention to things like multi-tasking and parallel workloads. These tasks pay more attention to other features such as memory bandwidth as well as the CPU interface bandwidth.
- Core Count: LGA 1356 can support up to eight physical cores per socket, with quad-core and six-core processors also being available. The more cores, the more effective a system is likely to be with heavy workloads as the job can be divided into multiple threads. While Intel's HyperThreading feature doubles the total number of threads, this platform also supports the Pentium 1400 series which only offers two cores at one thread per core.
- Cache: Cache is high speed memory that is used to feed the processor the data it needs as it's working. Lower-end processors like the Pentium 1400 series offer 5 MB of L3 Cache, while more powerful LGA 1356 processors with more cores may have as much as 20 MB of Smart Cache for an eight-core model.
Using a Xeon
Using a Xeon based system is not really any different than using any other desktop or workstation computer. The big advantage comes into play when working on multi-threaded workloads where the additional core count can let you devote more threads to a single task than might otherwise be possible. You may lose something in pure gaming performance, but the larger amount of RAM and increased multi-threaded performance often makes the system as a whole feel faster.
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