New Xeon Processor Numbering, More Than Just a Number

Notice anything different about today’s Intel® Xeon® processor announcements?   Well, if you hadn’t noticed, the processor numbers are different.  Yes, the numbers are normally different with each processor generation, but I'm talking about the new format or construct.   So why do this?  The reality is the current system needed better reflect key processor capabilities and, after many years of use, was starting to run out of numbers.  With broader product choices for different IT manager needs, from data centers to high-performance clusters to small business servers…flexibility, clarity, and multi-year stability were key new number system objectives.

So now you're probably saying, "oh great, now I have to relearn new numbers".   As a member of the Intel team that developed the new numbers, I understand this fair sentiment.  However, there is a “but wait”….  In short, more meaning has been built into the Intel® Xeon® processor number and understanding this meaning will help you choose the right processor.  Now, of course, one needs more product information than just the number in selecting a processor for a server or workstation deployment, but it plays a valuable role.

Let’s take a look at an example.

New Number Construct- Detailed.png

It breaks down into:

1.  Brand (no change here).

2.  Product line (there are three...E3, E5, E7).

3.  Product family.

4.  Version (v2, v3, etc.).

The ‘product family’ actually encodes further meaning.  The first character tells how many processors are natively supported in a system, the second character, ‘socket type’, signifies processor capability, and the third & fourth are ‘SKU numbers’ which, along with the whole number, represent a collective group of capabilities a given price.  So, in the above example, it’s the ‘E7’ product line.  The ‘4’ in the 'product family' means it supports four processors natively in a system, and the ‘8’ is the socket type.  A ‘socket type’ of ‘8’ supports a higher general level of system capability, for example more memory and I/O, than a ‘socket type’ of ‘2’.  A given 'socket type' digit does not change over time....meaning the follow-on to the Intel Xeon processor E7-4800 v2 product family would be the Intel Xeon processor E7-4800 v3 product family.  The '8' didn't change.  All that changed was the version number (‘v2’ to ‘v3’).

So, where is the ‘version’ reference in the products launching today?  Well, for the first processor generations using the new numbers, there won’t be a ‘version’ reference.  This begins with the second version or ‘v2’.  Additionally, beginning with ‘v2’, Intel Xeon processors with a common version reference will share a common microarchitecture.

The new number system was rolled out today with the Intel® Xeon® processor E7-8800/4800/2800 and E3-1200 product families. All future Intel® Xeon® processors will adopt this new numbering.

Are the numbers so easy, a caveman could understand them?  Maybe not.. .but hopefully the processor number provides key information to help in the purchase process.  Let me know your thoughts.