Intel is prepping its channel for the wide release of its Nehalem-class Xeon server microprocessors and platforms to whitebox partners on March 30, Channelweb.com has learned. Code-named Gainestown, the first quad-core Xeon parts featuring the company's next-generation Nehalem microarchitecture hit the market in early March with the launch of Apple's new Mac Pro workstations.
The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant kicks off the Intel Solutions Summit Sunday in Las Vegas, and will use its premier event for North American system integrators to give partners a hands-on education on the new Nehalem hardware platform ahead of the release date, several sources have confirmed.
Intel partners who spoke with Channelweb.com on condition of anonymity were mixed in their perceptions of the channel's readiness for the new server and workstation platform. One source with samples of Gainestown CPUs in hand said motherboards and cases supporting the new parts were tough to source. But another system builder said he was having little trouble finding Gainestown-ready boards and chassis from Super Micro and other components manufacturers.
The new Xeon lineup of server/workstation chips reportedly comprises nine processors ranging in clock speed from 2.0GHz to 3.2GHz and in price from $224 to $1,600, though those figures have yet to be officially confirmed. All of the new parts support dual-processor configurations and feature Intel's biggest change from its older Core microarchitecture, an integrated memory controller and a triple-channel DDR3 memory allocation system.
One prominent Intel partner said the chip maker's components ecosystem is primed for a big Nehalem push, though a new power supply configuration could pose some sourcing challenges. Nehalem's new memory allocation system, which eliminates the front-side bus of the older Core architecture, also could present system integrators with a steep learning curve at the outset as they fine-tune operating systems and BIOSes for Gainestown-based servers. The upshot is that it will all be worth it -- Nehalem performance is off the charts, the source said.
Did striking an early deal with Apple for the new Mac Pro lineup tick off some Intel channel partners? A couple of sources told Channelweb.com they were none too pleased, but Brian Corn of Waltham, Mass.-based Intel partner Source Code said the chip giant's special relationship with Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple was standard fare and wouldn't greatly affect the channel's 30- to 60-day window to put out new Nehalem-based systems ahead of major manufacturers such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
The new Mac Pros from Apple come in two flavors -- a $2,499 edition built on a single 95 W, 2.66GHz quad-core Xeon X5550 processor and a $3,299 version featuring a pair of 80 W, 2.26GHz quad-core Xeon E5520 parts.