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Intel announces low-power Xeon E3 series

Chip giant Intel is clearly getting rattled by the advances made by British semiconductor design house ARM in the server market, announcing a new range of low-power server chips alongside a roadmap that promises sub-10W processors by 2012.

Announced today, the company's Xeon E3 range promises a thermal design power - a measurement of the maximum power draw of a processor, and by extension its heat output under load - of between 20W and 45W. This compares favourably with the company's existing Xeon L range of lower-power chips, which are typically between 50W and 95W TDP.

The announced range comprises: the low-end Xeon E3-1220L, which offers an eco-friendly 20W TDP in a dual-core 2.2GHz processor with 3MB L3 cache and the ability to overclock a single core to 3.4GHz using Turbo Boost; the Xeon E3-1260L, a quad-core 2.4GHz chip with a 45W TDP and 8MB of L3 cache alongside 3.3GHz Turbo Boost performance.

While the new processors, designed for low-power single-socket systems, are a good start, they still draw significantly more power than ARM's Cortex-A15 design - and while the performance per clock might be higher, that's not necessarily enough to keep multi-processor server vendors on side.

Accordingly, Intel has also outlined a roadmap for low-power server processors that promises a Sandy Bridge-based Xeon with a TDP of a mere 15W by the end of the year. This will be followed by ultra-low power chips based on the Atom design next year, with a promised TDP of under 10W.

The move clearly shows that Intel is doing its working hard to counter the threat posed by ARM-based designs in multi-core and low-power server configurations, despite concern from some companies that ARM servers are unlikely to take off in the short term due to software compatibility issues. monitors all leading technology stories and rounds them up to help you save time hunting them down.