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Intel lifted the curtain on its Nehalem EX server processors Monday, pledging that its new Xeon 7500 series chips would bring mission-critical hardware capabilities "into the mainstream."
The new lineup of quad-core, six-core and eight-core Xeon processors represent "the most significant leap in performance, scalability and reliability ever seen from Intel," said Kirk Skaugen, vice president of the Intel architecture group and general manager of its data center group, in a statement Monday.
Formerly code-named Beckton, the Xeon 7500 series and 6500 series are also known colloquially as Nehalem EX -- a reference to the current Nehalem-class chip design Intel uses for its x86 processors and the "expandable," multi-socket server segment the new chips target. Skaugen said Xeon 7500 series chips were being used in designs ranging from two-socket server platforms up to a 256-node system built by one of more than a dozen computer makers on hand for Intel's San Francisco launch event.
The Nehalem EX series includes 11 new Xeon server processors ranging in price from $3,692 for the eight-core, 2.26GHz Xeon X7560 suitable for expandable systems of up to eight sockets and beyond, to $744 for the quad-core, 1.73GHz Xeon XE6510, which is tailored for dual-processor systems only. In between are processors sporting four, six and eight cores, some with Intel's Turbo Boost technology for throttling up individual core clock speeds and some without, all slotting into Intel's familiar thermal envelope of 95 watts to 130 watts for multi-socket server chips.
Intel's Nehalem EX processors arrived at the end of a busy month for Intel -- just two weeks after the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant introduced its Westmere-generation of 32-nanometer processors for single-socket and dual-socket servers, the Xeon 5600 series, an upgrade to the Xeon 5500 series launched to much fanfare in March 2009.
The Xeon 7500 series represents more than an upgrade. Rather it is a full-on successor to the Xeon 7400 series, also known as Dunnington, with the new chips featuring more cores, cache and expandability options than their predecessors, Skaugen said. The 7500 series also marks the full transition to Intel's Nehalem-generation architecture across its main client and server processor brands.
The payoff? Skaugen called the Nehalem EX family's generation-to-generation improvements the "the largest performance leap in Intel Xeon processor history," citing major gains over the Dunnington generation in a number of benchmarks.
Intel also had a consolidation message to attach to those performance gains. "Data centers can replace 20 single-core servers with a single new Xeon 7500 series-based system" for identical compute performance with attendant power savings, the company said in a statement.