Intel spruces up top end with Xeon 7500

Intel today introduced the eight-core Xeon 7500 server chip, based on its Nehalem EX chip and built on a 45nm process.

Intel said the chip represents the "biggest performance jump" its Xeon line has yet seen. The firm claims an average performance three times that of Intel's existing Xeon 7400 series on common, leading enterprise benchmarks.

According to Intel's world-wide head of enterprise marketing, Shannon Poulin, the new Xeon platform now "further penetrates" the mission critical and proprietary sectors. The chips are "out there on a broad number of platforms a broad range of vendors," Poulin said.

Platforms for the processor will support from two to 256 chips per server.

Intel reckons the chippery will allow customers to consolidate up to 20 older single-core, four-chip servers onto a single server at the same level of performance. The firm claims a Xeon 7500 server would pay for itself within five months.

IBM's Tikiri Wanduragala said big Blue "had always believed in the Xeon. He said that by this fifth generation of the chip, IBM had invested some $800 million "around this chip set". Highlight of the chip's architecture for him were the reduced "energy footprint" as well as its physical one and its virtualisation potential. The ability to scale memory on a two-socket system was he said, key, As virtualisation is "hamstrung" by its greed for memory.

In fiddling with implementations of the chip IBM had seen "stupendous numbers" he said.

Intel said the chip benefits from more than 20 new reliability, availability and serviceability (RAS) features which will make it more attractive in mission-critical environments.

Despite apparently encroaching on Itanic territory, the "Itanium will continue to have its business," Poulin said. Wanduragala agreed. Many factors go into the decision of what goes into a data-centre and its not all SPECInt benchmarks, he said. The market decides and its the whole environment that is bought, not purely the processor

Xeon Intel QuickPath Technology (QPI) interconnect allows cost-effective and highly scalable eight-processor servers that don't require specialised third-party node controller chips to hold the system together. AMD executives wmight have nodded sagely had they been there.

Intel s aid it is working with system vendors to deliver "ultra-scale" systems with 16 processors for the enterprise, and up to 256 processors and support for 16 terabytes of memory for high- performance computing "super nodes".

The chip maker claims the chip has already set over 20 new world records with in systems made by the likes of Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, IBM, NEC and SGI.