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Intel claims new Xeon is 'revolutionary'

Intel claims new Xeon is 'revolutionary'

Intel's latest Xeon chip - based around the Nehalem architecture - is allegedly the biggest thing since the Pentium Pro.

Intel's latest server-side processor, the Xeon 5500 chip, seems to be getting a lot of love: companies as diverse as Cray, HP, and Dell have all announced products based around what Intel is calling the most revolutionary server processor since the Pentium Pro.

As reported over on BetaNews, Intel has stated that over 70 companies will be shortly announcing products designed around the Xeon 5500 processor – with AMAX, Cray, HP, and Dell chosen as headliners, along with clients such as CERN, the European Space Agency, and Capgemini.

Based around the Nehalem processor architecture, the 5500 is designed to improve the Xeon range's performance per watt characteristics, as well as providing a much-needed performance boost over older chips.

Patrick Gelsinger, Intel's senior vice president, claims that the new range will provide “the foundation for the next decade of innovation” with “groundbreaking advances in performance, virtualisation and workload management, which will create opportunities to solve the world's most complex challenges and push the limits of science and technology.

Marketing spiel aside, the range of chips is pretty impressive: while the top-end model, the W5580 with 8MB of cache and four cores running at 3.2GHz, draws a somewhat toasty 130W, the low-power models – the 2.26GHz quad-core L5520 with 8MB of cache and its baby brother the 2.13GHz quad-core L5506 with 4MB of cache – come in at a respectable 60W.

Intel hopes that this pair of surprisingly low powered chips will help server manufacturers cram increasingly dense servers – including blades – into ever more efficient data centres. We had a look at a pair of the flagship Xeon W5580 processors the other day and they won bit-tech's coveted Excellence award.

The new range includes the point-to-point system dubbed Quick Path Interconnect – designed to compete with AMD's rival HyperTransport – running at between 4.8GT/s (gigatransfers per second) and 6.4GT/s depending on the model, and improved support for increasingly popular virtualisation technology which builds on the company's existing Intel VT system.

Obviously these improvements come at a cost, and it's high enough to keep enthusiasts at bay for now: while the base model, a dual-core 1.86GHz with 4MB of cache, is going for $188 (£130) – but the W5580 top-end model has an asking price of a whopping $1600 (£1,120). This places it well out of the reach of most consumers, who will have to make do with the desktop-oriented i7 3.2GHz for a more reasonable ~£800.

Any server builders here itching to get their hands on a W5580 or six, or are you salivating over the thought of a renderfarm built from the low-power L5520? Interested to see what AMD's response will be to this latest assault on the lucrative server market? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

10 Comments

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nicae 1st April 2009, 14:07 Quote
Specs are high, benchmarks are high, but the prices are high too, no?
UrbanMarine 1st April 2009, 14:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicae
Specs are high, benchmarks are high, but the prices are high too, no?

Xeon W5580- £1,472.58
leexgx 1st April 2009, 14:28 Quote
thats before the motherboard or the compete setup has to be replaced
perplekks45 1st April 2009, 14:31 Quote
Gotta ask my girlfriend's brother if he can get his hands on those CPUs cheaper, seeing that Capgemini will buy some and him working there + "knowing people"...
Lizard 1st April 2009, 15:18 Quote
If you have lots of servers/workstations then the cost of keeping them running (power, air-con and people) is actually far bigger than the hardware itself. Viewed that way, the price of the W5580 isn't outrageous because it can complete tasks quicker (thereby going into a powersaving mode quicker than a slower CPU).
Sir Digby 1st April 2009, 18:45 Quote
Base model is £130 pounds? - if that's a Nehalem based chip that could be a very good deal even if it is only dual core, review in the future?
perplekks45 1st April 2009, 18:55 Quote
Would be a very good deal as soon as there are any mainboards available for less than £150 but that won't happen too soon.
bowman 2nd April 2009, 00:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Digby
Base model is £130 pounds? - if that's a Nehalem based chip that could be a very good deal even if it is only dual core, review in the future?

The lower tier models are missing features like hyper-threading, turbo mode and such depending on which one you pick.

Aha: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xeon#5500-series_.22Gainestown.22
john125 2nd April 2009, 09:33 Quote
Quote:

while the top-end model, the W5580 with 8MB of cache

Why is 8mb? why not 16? 8 i think this is not seriously for a TOP-model of processors
perplekks45 2nd April 2009, 18:12 Quote
You want to pay even more for hardly any real-world performance benefit? :|
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