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Intel 5500 / 5600 CPU - Always stuck at 1.7 GHz

Posted on 2011-02-16
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I have several Dell servers (R410, R710 and R910 models) with some running Windows Server 2003 and other running Windows 2008 Server, all 64 bit.

What I have noticed is that even under heavy application load, the CPU clock speed of each of the cores (I use TMonitor to view) is stuck at just below 1.7GHz, even though the CPUs are rated at 2.13 GHz, and 2.4 GHz + turbo (each machine has 2 CPUs, with some machines having E5620 and other machines having E5506).

I get much better performance from the same exact apps on my older X5160 machines as those CPUs idle at 2.0GHz but immediately ramp up to their rated 3.0GHz speeds when my apps run.

Example: On an X5160 at 3.00 GHz machine processing a  bulk email list to 50,000 recipients finishes processing in one third the time compared to  2.4 GHz E5620 machine which never leaves the 1.7GHz processor idle core speed.

Now, my question: Is there any way to disable the processor idle/sleep modes on these newer Intel E5506 / E5620 chips so that I can have them running at their rated speed?
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Question by:gordonlee
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by:Philip Elder
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In the BIOS there will be a number of settings such as C3 State. Make sure that they are enabled along with Intel's Turbo Boost settings.

CPUz may be a better tool to check the status of the cores.

Intel also has a utility for this purpose:
http://www.intel.com/p/en_US/support/highlights/processors/toolspiu

Philip
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andyalder earned 500 total points
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Perhaps it's something else that's the bottleneck, for example if you had a 1Gb NIC connection on the old box and a 10Mb NIC on the new ones the job would take longer to process and the CPU wouldn't have to ramp up because it would not have much work to do, similarly the older boxes might have faster disks.

Does perfmon show the CPUs %processor time to be high when running the job?
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by:gordonlee
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MPECSInc:

Isn't that the issue? The C3 state is the CPU "sleep state" and it allows one or more cores to enter sleep states so that other cores can go into Turbo Boost. But my problem is that I can't get the CPU to even budge from sleep state or even approach their rated, non-turbo speed. (E5506 doesn't support turbo / E5620 does)


andyalder:

Actually, the apps run on RAM Disks. All machines have 1Gb NIC. The older boxes have the same 15K RPM SCSI HDDs.


So these don't seem to be the issue, but thank you both for your replies.

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by:Philip Elder
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Make sure that the BIOS and firmware are up to date on the server board.

The BIOS settings can be tuned to allow or disallow the various CPU features.

Run the Dell diagnostic utilities to make sure that there are no conflicts happening. If dual CPU, if the CPUs are different in their stepping and family all sorts of odd behaviours can be had. Make sure the CPUs are identical.

Philip
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by:Callandor
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>Is there any way to disable the processor idle/sleep modes on these newer Intel E5506 / E5620 chips so that I can have them running at their rated speed?

I would recommend resetting the BIOS to get everything into the default state.  You can do this by moving a jumper on the motherboard (usually near the CMOS battery and has three pins with a shorting block) from the Normal position (1-2) to the Clear position (2-3) and then back to Normal.  You can also remove the CMOS battery for 10 min after removing all power.  If your motherboard recognizes your cpu, it should run at the correct speed at default settings.
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Author Closing Comment

by:gordonlee
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Turns out that the issue is that for some reason it takes a LOT of computation to even budge the processors on these new 5500 series CPUs.
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