First Look: Intel's Xeon, Codename Nehalem

The Test Center spent several days evaluating an AsusTek server built with an Intel Xeon 5570 at 2.93GHz, with 24 GB of memory at 1.333GHz, and two hard disk drives of 300 GB each. Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition was loaded onto the system to get started.

Intel has designed this latest round of server processors to be about more than just benchmarking speed. The company has specifically said that the system was for, among other things, faster virtualization. We tried it out. On the test server, we set out to launch the 20 separate virtual servers, each running Windows Server 2008. We assigned each 1 GB of memory.

One at a time, we launched each virtual server, started a workload and then went on to launch the next server. All down the line, not a single server took more than a minute to boot -- even when there were 19 other servers doing work, all running off the same CPU.

When the server was first turned on, power draw at the outlet was 191 watts, but that quickly dropped down to 118 watts and remained stable during testing on a variety of workloads.

Even measured directly at the processor's heatsink, the unit never reached above 87 degrees Fahrenheit. The implications for next-generation data centers -- from a performance as well as an energy-efficiency point of view -- will be profound.

This launch by Intel looks to be historic in what it will do for the potential of virtualization and data center consolidation. It also will change the game in terms of value that can be delivered in the form-factor of a single, 1U rack server. Bottom line: This is the most compelling piece of technology to be released onto the market this year, and will be hard to top.