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New error correction and integrated DDR3 memory controllers are coming for some of Intel's most expensive products

Intel launched its Xeon 5500 series of server CPUs using Nehalem architecture at the end of March. Using lessons learned from the Core i7, the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer managed to achieve impressive performance gains while cutting power consumption dramatically. Sales have been impressive, and the company expects that it will account for 50% of all dual socket (2S) server sales by August.

DailyTech previously showed part of Intel's server roadmap, detailing a follow-up Xeon processor series known as Nehalem-EX. Intel is now releasing details about Nehalem-EX in order for its customers to include it in their planning.

Each Nehalem-EX processor will feature up to eight cores on a single chip, up to 24MB of shared cache, and support 16 threads with Hyper-Threading. The chip is built using Intel's P1266 45nm High-K metal gate technology, and will be comprised of 2.3 billion transistors. It will use the new Boxboro-EX chipset, and be able to support up to 16 DIMMs per socket. Eight socket systems capable of processing 128 threads simultaneously will be possible, since each chip will feature four Quick Path Interconnects.

Intel is also moving away from Fully-Buffered DIMMs to DDR3 Registered ECC DIMMs. It will use its Scalable Memory Interconnect, which has its own internal memory buffers. A new feature known as Machine Check Architecture (MCA) recovery will detect CPU, memory, and I/O errors. It is designed to work with operating systems to correct and recover from otherwise fatal system errors, thus maintaining critical uptime. Microsoft, RedHat, Novell, and VMware are already promising support in their products.

Multi-socket capable Xeon processors are typically used in large corporations, universities, and research institutions. Often, it is used to create supercomputers for High Performance Computing (HPC) applications, such as modeling the decay of nuclear waste, simulating tectonic stresses to predict earthquakes, and examining protein folding. Uptime and reliability is critical, as any errors will mean that the modeling run will have to be restarted. HPC servers are in high demand, with computer time booked months in advance.

Intel's previous champion was the Xeon 7400 series, formerly known as Dunnington. It uses DDR2 memory running at the same 1066MHz as its Front Side Bus. Compared against the Xeon 7400, Nehalem should have 9 times the memory bandwidth. Intel is also claiming 2.5 times greater database performance, 1.7 times integer throughput, and 2.2 times floating point throughput.

Nehalem-EX is codenamed Beckton within Intel, which will only say that it is scheduled for released in the second half of the year. The firm may choose to launch Beckton at the Intel Developer Forum at the end of September, with sales at the beginning of the fourth quarter as the Xeon 7500 series.

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RE: wow...
By GodisanAtheist on 5/27/2009 6:25:27 PM , Rating: 2
How do the patent rights work for something like the x86 architecture? Intel released their first x86 chip in 1986 if I'm not wrong, therefore the patent for the x86 instruction set would have had to have been granted before or shortly after release.

Don't patents expire after 20 years? Shouldn't the x86 license be nearing its sell-by date?

Or have I really mucked things up?

RE: wow...
By EricMartello on 5/27/2009 9:45:57 PM , Rating: 2
As far as I know the x86 architecture is not "open" but I'm not sure if it needs to be licensed from Intel or not for a manufacturer to make an x86 compatible CPU...but that really isn't what's holding AMD and other competition back.

While the x86 instruction set is universal, the internal approach to processing programs written for that architecture vary, and typically companies with bigger R&D budgets have the advantage (and are able to produce CPUs with superior performance). In the past, AMD was able to gain a foothold by making CPUs that rivaled or outperformed the Intel counterparts at 40-60% of the cost.

That was when AMD was motivated...but now it's like they're in so much debt from buying out ATI that they killed their R&D budget for CPUs. Meanwhile, Intel as been owning the processor market ever since it's C2D line of processors emerged. They beat AMD across the board and even though they cost more, they offer better price:performance, especially in games which is what sells a lot of high end hardware.

RE: wow...
By AstroCreep on 5/27/2009 11:50:17 PM , Rating: 2
...I'm not sure if it needs to be licensed from Intel...

My understanding is "Yes", because recently when AMD announced that it was spinning off the fab-unit as a separate business (GlobalFoundries) Intel cried foul and said that act "Violates" the license AMD bought to design/manufacture x86-compatible CPUs.
Whether or not if the claim by Intel about the AMD split is valid is yet to be seen.

I also seem to remember reading some speculation in the last year about NVIDIA possibly getting a license to make their own x86 CPUs (speculation that was heavily fueled by the Ion platform), but speculation was simply all it was.

RE: wow...
By EricMartello on 5/28/2009 12:30:33 AM , Rating: 2
It's too bad that we are so rooted in would be nice to move away from CISC to RISC which is an inherently more efficient processor architecture, and it would have to be an OPEN standard.

RE: wow...
By Regs on 5/28/2009 11:23:38 PM , Rating: 2
They're actually becoming more inheritably alike. Like economics of scale and the possibilities curve, there's always a trade off. Software companies aren't always going to use the most resources to program for risc, and not every PC manufacture is going to use CISC because they're expensive, run hotter, and sometimes slower.

RE: wow...
By JumpingJack on 5/29/2009 8:18:32 PM , Rating: 2
Intel released the 8086, hence the derived reference 'x86', in 1978.

Patents have a 20 year term from the initial filing date or 17 years from the grant date. However, since 1978 much more technology has gone into microprocessors, such as extensions, new instructions, yada yada, much of the modern x86 processor is still protected under a bevy of patents.

For example, the Pentium Pro was launched in 1995, and it was the first intel super scalar x86 CPU. It is not clear to me if Intel had patented various architectural features from the Pentium Pro since some were also being implemented in NexGEN and Cyrix processors.

The general progression of the x86 CPU has made IP from both AMD and Intel extremely intertwined.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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