24 hours after AMD Launched its 12-core processor, archrival Intel has unveiled its new Xeon 6500 and 7500 processor series that's build on the updated Nehalem EX architecture.
The processors, which have up to eight cores, will suport four memory channels per unit, giving them extra memory bandwidth and will be geared towards servers with two or more sockets, making them ideal replacements for older Xeon MP machines.
Intel's clients, such as IBM, HP, Dell or Cray, are expected to build systems with up to 256 processors, meaning that in theory such computers should be able to house 2048 cores, giving them a quasi super computer status.
The high end Intel Xeon 7500 processors have a TDP of 130w, can handle 16 threads and come with 24MB L3 cache. They can reach speeds of up to 2.66GHz in Turbo Mode although their normal clock speed is 2.26GHz.
An eight socket configuration will be able to support up to 2TB RAM using 16GB DDR3 memory modules which means that, together with the 20 new RAS (Reliability, Availability and Serviceability) features that are introduced with this processor line, the new Xeons are likely to be far more robust competitors to the Itanium range.
Some analysts reckon that Intel will have no other choice than to allow the increasing overlap between Itanium and Xeon as this keeps customers from adopting AMD and its Opteron range.
Obviously the chips won't come cheap with the cheapest units costing $744 and the most expensive ones $3692. In comparison, AMD's most expensive 12-core Opteron costs "only" $1386.
Ironically, AMD's growing influence in the server market means that Intel might need to kill off Itanium quietly by making its Xeon processors so powerful that it just makes the processor range co-developed with HP obsolete.