Intel Unveils Xeon E7 Server Processor, Says Itanium Roadmap Unaffected


Intel on Tuesday launched its high-end Xeon E7 server processors, which Intel says offer performance up to 40 percent greater than its previous-generation Xeon 7500-series chips.

Intel launched 18 new 32-nm E7 processors, including the E7-8800, E7-4800, and E7-2800 chips, featuring up to 10 hyper-threaded cores. Intel’s Xeon E7 server processors include several features aimed at improving energy-efficiency and security, as well as support for virtualization software.

As a result, Xeon is no longer positioned strictly as an entry-level product, but will instead alternate in terms of both availability and performance with Intel’s Itanium architecture. Speaking at a press briefing in San Francisco on Tuesday, Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Center Group, said the transition began with the launch of Xeon 7500 in March 2010.

"Instead of Itanium at the top and Xeon at the bottom of the lineup, we’re going to have them side by side,” he said. “With server vendors including Windows, Linux and Solaris now running on the Xeon architecture, there’s no workload in the world today that Xeon can’t handle.”

Intel said its roadmap for Itanium is on track with the unveiling of its Itanium-based Poulson processors earlier this year, which Skaugen said doubles the performance of its predecessor Tukwila. Skaugen said that Tukwila’s successor code-named Kittson is in development as well. However, rather than following Intel’s “tick-tock” roadmap, Itanium is now on an off-year “tock-tock” cycle, Skaugen said.

“Itanium is on a two-year beat rate,” Skaugen said. “Xeon is delivering up to 40 percent performance, which is a world record. Since Itanium is not on a tick-tock schedule, Xeon and Itanium will leap-frog each other.”

In addition, Intel said its updated Xeon server platform contributes to its goal of creating an open, industry standard for mission-critical applications such as business intelligence and real-time data analytics. “We want to democratize mission-critical computing and fundamentally change the economics in that space,” Skaugen said. “The largest software vendors have embraced this technology, bringing four- to eight-socket systems gluelessly into the architecture.”

Skaugen said Intel’s architecture offers a more cost- and energy-efficient industry standard, and that Intel is seeing unparalleled momentum in the IT industry for its architecture as it tries to convince vendors throughout the ecosystem to migrate over. Intel said vendors that support Xeon E7-based platforms include IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Red Hat, SAP, and VMware. Intel said it expects over 35 E7-based platforms to eventually come to market from manufacturers including Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Lenovo, and Oracle.

Next: Oracle’s Decision To Adopt Xeon E7, Not Itanium