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The CRN Test Center's 2014 Products Of The Year

The technological leaps and bounds continue as the CRN Test Center faces the tough task of selecting the best products to come through its labs this year. This is one winner's circle with a big wow factor.

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Winner: Intel Haswell-EP

Intel once again finds itself at the top of the CRN Test Center's list of Products of the Year. The company last year won high praise for its Tri-Gate processor technology, which reinvigorated a stagnant laptop market. In 2014, Intel's Haswell technology and 22nm process have begun to permeate server designs. The Xeon E5v3-series Haswell-EP processors bring levels of performance and power efficiency never before possible. Haswell-EP processors with 10 cores or more support cluster-on-die, an operating mode that allows columns of cores to appear to the host operating system as two non-uniform memory access CPUs, thereby reducing latency when accessing on-chip cache. Haswell-EP and it higher-performing Haswell-EX and "enthusiast-class" Haswell-E models also support DDR4 memory, which increases bandwidth to 3,200MHz from 2,133MHz.

Boosts in graphics processing capabilities also were significant. There are now four integrated GPU classes, the highest of which incorporate 40 execution units compared with 16 in the prior generation. Further, the highest-level GT3e in some packages adds to those 40 cores with 128 MB of embedded DRAM, which effectively adds a Level 4 cache that's dynamically shared between application and graphics cores. The new parts also fully integrate the voltage regulator, and support Thunderbolt and the newer Thunderbolt 2.0. The chip also implements two new Haswell low-power sleep states, a variable base clock and close to a dozen new thermal design power processor models. The influence of Haswell can be seen in several of the products covered here, the impact of which will be felt for years to come.

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