Intel launches four-socket Xeon 7300 quad-core processor

Intel recently released details on its four-socket, quad-core Xeon 7300 processor and its availability from 50-plus server OEM partners.

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For more on quad-core processors:
Intel to intro Xeon 7300 processor

AMD trailers upcoming quad-core processor

Intel intros new quad-core Xeon as AMD Barcelona nears
Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp. officially announced its new four-socket, quad-core Xeon 7300 Series this week, code-named Tigerton -- just five days before Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD)'s quad-core processor Barcelona is to be introduced.

Compared with the company's previous-generation four-socket, dual-core products, the new quad-core Xeon 7300 series processors pack more than twice the performance and more than three times the performance per watt – and at the same price, Intel says. The Xeon 7300 completes Intel's transition to Core microarchitecture, a move that Intel first announced in June 2006.

Intel's consolidation mission
Intel is pushing users to move away from the phased-out single-core processors onto the quad-core platform, saying the Intel Xeon 7300 is designed for server consolidation. It has four times the memory capacity of the previous generation: a four-socket, dual-core code-named Tulsa.

We've eliminated every reason not to go to quad core.
Kirk Skaugen,
vice president and general manager, Server Products GroupIntel Corp.

"We are not charging a premium for quad-core, so all of our dual-core processor pricing is replaced with quad-core prices," said Kirk Skaugen, Intel vice president and general manager of the Server Products Group. "We've eliminated every reason not to go to quad core. Many [users] have single-core servers that are utilized only 15% to 20%. Now we have a platform with five times the performance of single core, so you can take dozens of underutilized systems, create virtual partitions and increase utilization dramatically."

The more energy-efficient Xeon 7300 series includes frequencies up to 2.93 GHz at 130 watts; several 80-watt processors; as well as a 50-watt version, or 12.5 watts per core, with a frequency of 1.86 GHz for ultradense deployments, such as four-socket blade servers.

It's also possible to upgrade the Xeon 7300 to Intel's next-generation chips. Code-named Dunnington, the 45-nanometer (nm) processor with four or more cores is due out next year, Skaugen said. In mid-2008, Intel plans to ship its Nehalem family of processors, which will include one to eight cores per product. In 2009, Intel plans to introduce its 32-nm manufacturing process.

In addition, the Xeon 7300 includes a new Data Traffic Optimizations feature that enhances data movement between processors, memory and I/O connections, Intel said. While previously an interconnect was shared, each processor will now have its own interconnect, Skaugen said.

The previously announced Intel VT FlexMigration will assist in the seamless upgrade of virtual machines to Intel's next-generation 45 nm Core microarchitecture-based platforms.

VMware Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif., and Intel worked together to optimize VMware ESX Server on the Xeon 7300 for live migration with VMotion between Intel processor families. This means users with Intel Xeon processors can perform live migrations of virtual machines to servers with future-generation Intel processors.

Users won't be able to do live migrations between AMD and Intel-based servers, however.

AMD's two cents on Tigerton
When AMD of Sunnyvale, Calif., releases its first quad-core processor next week, the two-, four- and eight-socket versions of the chip, code-named Barcelona, will surpass performance of Intel's Xeon quad-core processor line.

"Tigerton has the unfortunate distinction of being near last in a line of a dying architecture based on a front-side bus bottleneck," said Bruce Shaw, director of server and workstation product marketing. "Nowhere are the limitations of a front-side bus architecture more keenly felt than in the high-end multiprocessor server market. So while Intel may publicly 'celebrate' the arrival of Tigerton, it is in fact the final inadequate attempt by Intel to make the front-side bus architecture scale."

AMD's quad-core processor will be on one die, making it the first "native" quad-core processor. Intel's quad-core processors are two dual cores stuck together.

"Tigerton is still a dual-core processor design, just as Penryn will be, said AMD's Shaw. "To achieve full-performance scaling on real-world multithreaded workloads, real design work is needed. Packaging dual-cores together into quad cores is insufficient, as Intel itself clearly understands. Why else transition to native quad core in late 2008?"

Intel spokesperson Nick Knupffer said Intel's Xeon quad-core processor performance is the same as if it were on a single piece of silicon. He did not confirm any plans to move to a single die in the future.

"We are interested in end-user performance, and we are proud of the performance we have been delivering," Knupffer said.

Since November 2006, Intel has introduced more than 20 quad-core processors in the server and desktop market segments.

Vendors add servers designed for Xeon 7300
Starting today, servers based on the Xeon 7300 series processors are available from more than 50 system manufacturers, including Dell Inc., Egenera Inc., Fujitsu, Fujitsu Siemens, Hitachi, IBM Corp., NEC Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Super Micro Computer Inc., and Unisys Corp.

Today, for example, Hewlett-Packard Co. announced its enhanced lineup of multiprocessor-based server systems based on the Xeon 7300.

The rack-based HP ProLiant DL580 G5 server and the HP ProLiant BL680c G5, HP's first four-processor, quad-core server blade, offer increased performance with double the number of processor cores.

Pricing for the new Intel Xeon quad-core processors depends on the speed, features and volume ordered, and cost ranges from $856 to $2,301 in quantities of 1,000. For additional details on the performance characteristics of the quad-core Intel Xeon 7300 series, visit Intel's Web site.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer.

Also, check out our news blog at serverspecs.blogs.techtarget.com

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