Intel has unveiled its latest Xeon series of CPUs for servers
and workstations. The Xeon 5500 series was formerly codenamed Nehalem-EP
(Efficient Performance), and is related to the Nehalem
CPUs used in Core i7 desktops.
The 5500 series features quad core processors built on a 45nm
process using Hi-K metal gate technology, as found on the Core 2 Duo
and Core 2 Quad processors. Some models use Intel's
Turbo Boost technology to operate one or more cores above
the rated frequency to speed specific workloads. For example,
the W5580 can be boosted from 3.2 GHz up to 3.33GHz, as long as power
consumption and heat is within limits. Intelligent Power technology is
also used to reduce power consumption during low utilization periods by
shutting down unused cores.
This is achieved through the use of Integrated Power Gates, which allow
individual idling cores to be reduced to near-zero power consumption
independent of other operating cores. Intel claims this
reduces idle power consumption to 10 watts, versus 16 or 50
watts in prior-generations of Intel quad-core processors. This feature
is said to reduce server idle power consumption by up to 50 percent
versus the previous generation of two-socket server processors.
The Xeon 5500 series is supported by the new Intel 5520
chipset, formerly codenamed Tylersburg-EP,
available with the new Intel 82599 10Gb Ethernet controller.
The chipset can support up to 18 slots of DDR3 DIMMs, and utilize up to
144 GB of DDR3 memory.
QuickPath Interconnects and an integrated memory
controller are touted to speed traffic between processors and I/O
controllers for bandwidth intensive applications. The 5520 chipset is
being touted as future-proof, with drop in support being the target
when Westmere-EP Xeons arrive in Q2 of 2010.
Intel's Pat Gelsinger, Senior Vice President and General
Manager of the Digital Enterprise Group, gave the Xeon 5500 launch
presentation. The improvements in efficiency and performance were
He used the example of 184 Intel Xeon single core servers from
2005 in a datacenter, now due for replacement. They could be replaced
by 184 Xeon 5500 based servers for a 9X performance gain with an 18%
reduction in annual energy costs. Alternatively, they could be replaced
by 21 Xeon 5500 servers which would provide the same level of
performance, but at a 90% reduction in annual energy costs. They would
result in an unprecedented eight month payback period based on those
Datacenters consume a tremendous amount of power not only for
the servers themselves, but also for cooling and humidity control. Heat
is produced by the thousands of CPUs in a datacenter, but there is also
a large amount generated by hard drives, routers, switches, and
Uninterruptable Power Supplies.
Intel is positioning the Xeon 5500 series for the expected
growth in cloud
computing and virtualization.
Key adopters are firms like eBay,
Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Sun, and Yahoo! Companies
are also expected to make heavy use of these servers to provide gaming
and entertainment services to customers.
Intel will show off an eight-core
Nehalem-EX Xeon at the Intel Developer Forum
this September. Westmere based Xeon servers will also
be unveiled next year.
For performance figures on Intel's latest server processors, you can check out AnandTech's review.
Intel Xeon 5500 Series
1333, 1066, 800