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SMP version of "Conroe" takes flight, but availability seems scarce

This Monday, June 26, 2006, Intel will launch its new Woodcrest processor, a server processor based on Intel's Core architecture. The new processor family, dubbed Xeon DP, will use Socket LGA-771 and include support for multiple-CPUs -- which enables a system to support more than one Woodcrest processor, as opposed to being limited to just a single Core 2 processor per system. Despite the significant difference, every other aspect of Woodcrest is virtually identical to Core 2 Duo for the desktop.

Intel's new Woodcrest processor comes at us with the intention to compliment and ultimately replace Dempsey, Intel's latest dual-core Xeon processor based on the NetBurst microarchitecture. While both Dempsey and Woodcrest are based on 65nm processes, Woodcrest will focus a great deal on power consumption efficiency.  Both Dempsey and Woodcrest have a TDP envelope of 130W, but the performance is much higher on Woodcrest giving better performance-per-Watt. Being a NetBurst component, Dempsey scaled high in clockspeed, reaching up to 3.73GHz on a 1066MHz FSB. It also employed a 2x2MB L2 cache structure versus Woodcrest's shared 4MB L2 cache. Another detail to note is that Dempsey is capable of processing up to four threads simultaneously thanks to Hyper-Threading, versus Woodcrest's maximum of two -- Hyper-Threading is not enabled on the first Core 2 Duo nor Woodcrest Xeons.

During some demonstrations of Woodcrest
, Intel stated that when compared to AMD's Opteron processor, Woodcrest can be up to 33% more efficient in power consumption. Actual tests however indicated that Woodcrest is about 10% to 15% lower in some situations.  As for evolution, Intel says that the new Woodcrest is two to three times better in power efficiency over the previous Dempsey core.  AMD also recently published its opinion on server power consumption.

Unfortunately, here's the kicker.  Numerous channel vendors have contacted DailyTech claiming that availability of Woodcrest will not be for another two weeks.  Synnex and ASI will be the only US distributors with any quantity, and then general availability begins WW31. One vendor sent DailyTech a memo claiming "[the] second week of August is when we start to get box [processors] in volume." Several vendors will announce system builds with the processors immediately, but there will be no channel availability.  Motherboards are already widely available as every Socket 771 motherboard that supports Dempsey also supports Woodcrest.  Intel will ship Woodcrest Xeon DP in the following configurations:

Intel Xeon Processor

Core /
L2 Cache
Price @
Xeon Processor DP
(Woodcrest Bin-0)
5160   3.0GHz /
Xeon Processor DP
(Woodcrest Bin-1)
5150   2.66GHz /
Xeon Processor DP
(Woodcrest Bin-2)
5140   2.33GHz /
Xeon Processor DP
(Woodcrest Bin-3)
5130   2.0GHz /
Xeon Processor DP
(Woodcrest Bin-4)
5120   1.86GHz /
Xeon Processor DP
(Woodcrest Bin-5)
5110   1.60GHz /

All Woodcrest processors will sport 4MB of L2 cache and are manufactured at 65nm. Prices will start at $210 and increase up to $850 in batches of 1000. With Woodcrest it's evident that most if not all of the world's top server companies will be shipping systems with the new processor. One of the most anticipated uses of Woodcrest will be Apple, which is expected to be releasing Woodcrest based systems later this year.

will be accompanied by DDR2 memory, running at either DDR2-533 or DDR2-667. On Intel's Bensley platform, Xeon DP systems will be limited in the graphics department -- systems will only support a single-lane PCI Express setup. However, memory performance should see a nice boost thanks to the use of fully-buffered DIMMs (FB-DIMMs).

Looking further down the road, Intel's Clovertown will feature quad-cores -- two Woodcrest dice stamped onto a single package. This gives Clovertown systems the ability to scale up to eight CPU cores. Intel also says that Clovertown will deliver power consumption levels on par with Woodcrest. Later this year, Intel will also release Xeon MP Tulsa, the final processor based on the NetBurst architecture. Tulsa may be the last NetBurst processor from Intel, but it will be the company's first x86 processor to support shared L3 cache.  Intel's Itanium 2 Montecito processor will be the company's first shared-L3 processor.

Looking through into 2007, Intel is expected to introduce Tigerton, a new Xeon MP processor set to replace Tulsa. Tigerton is expected to contain at least four cores and have support for SMP configurations of four or more processors per system. With Tigerton, Intel is also expected to include a technology it currently calls "dedicated high-speed interconnect." The new technology gives each processor a direct pathway to the chipset. This will prove to be much faster than today's front-side bus technology. Actual launch dates for Tigerton are still unknown.

AMD also has a big server release around the corner on August 1, 2006. The new Opteron "Revision F" -- based on LGA 1207-pin Socket F -- will mark a significant evolution in multi-core CPUs for AMD.

Update 06/26/2006: The Intel press relese for Woodcrest was released today.

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Seems kinda relevant
By Fnoob on 6/24/2006 9:13:58 AM , Rating: 2
Another detail to note is that Dempsey is capable of processing up to four threads simultaneously thanks to HyperThreading, versus Woodcrest's maximum of two -- HyperThreading is not enabled on the first Core 2 Duos.

Would seem like a waste not to enable this - or not to wait for processors where this is actually turned on. Perhaps I'm way off here, but isnt this akin to training a world class boxing octopus, and then tying half his arms behind his back?

RE: Seems kinda relevant
By mino on 6/24/2006 12:48:47 PM , Rating: 2
It's NOT present so it isn't enabled :) Sipmle as that.

IMHO the "no enabled" quote comes from the likes who write about "C7 has extended multimedia functionality enabled". It means it does not support it, just said in a more polite way fo intel.

Not that HT is missed on MCW core by anyone into CPU's.

RE: Seems kinda relevant
By Fnoob on 6/25/2006 9:27:32 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the clarification....

But I still stand by the fact that an evolutionarily "improved" CPU should be able to handle MORE threads, not less. The server we are running now is bottlenecked more by excessive threading demands than say, FSB, clock, etc.

RE: Seems kinda relevant
By Scrogneugneu on 6/25/2006 11:08:46 AM , Rating: 2
HyperThreading made little to no difference. Overall, it was more a marketing technology than a real boost in performance.

Having a processor able to perform 2 threads simultaneously, instead of 2 threads + 2 fake-threads, won't hurt performance that much. And since the new cores should be much more efficient, you'll most likely find that a 2 threads processor will perform better than the old 4 threads one.

RE: Seems kinda relevant
By hstewarth on 6/25/2006 2:15:44 PM , Rating: 2
Actually hyperthreading did make a difference - but only really before Dual core came out. On a hyperthreading machine, any you doing a long intensive task such as compiling a large code, you can smoothly do something else while the compile is going on. On the same situation, its much hard to do anythings.

Also in some situations that you can run two instanse of same application and achieve faster overall output. I notice this with graphics application call Mojoworld - I go do six renders with hyperthreading in same time as doing 4 without.

Also its important to understand that the OS is not single threaded, so multiple threads will help in this situation which could explain some of smoothness of HT machine verse a single core non HT machine.

Stating this, Dual core is much better than HT. But I would rather have HT over non HT-single core anyday.

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