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Intel to intro Xeon 7300 processor

Intel will soon release its Xeon 7300 processor, a four-socket, four-processor core model with better performance than previous generations.

The Intel/AMD smackdown continues. On Sept. 5, Intel Corp. will launch the new four-socket, quad-core Xeon 7300 Series -- just five days before Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s quad-core processor Barcelona is also expected to launch.

For more on quad-core processors:
AMD trailers upcoming quad-core processor

Intel intros new quad-core Xeon as AMD Barcelona nears
AMD's Opteron has carved out a piece of Intel's server business. With Tigerton, Intel hopes to take back some of the lost territory.

Intel has not released details about its new four-socket, quad-core chip, but it confirmed that the release was imminent. "This quarter will see the launch of Intel's latest MP [multiprocessor] platform code-named Caneland," said Intel spokesperson Nick Knupffer in a July 24 blog. Shipments to OEMs began in June of this year. The Xeon 7300 multiprocessor, which is code-named Tigerton, and the Clarksboro chipset make up the Caneland platform.

In the same blog, Kirk Skaugen, Intel vice president and general manager of the Server Products Group, discussed Caneland on video. According to Skaugen, Intel's four-socket, quad-core processor doubles the performance of Intel's previous multiprocessor offering on some workloads. The Intel Xeon 7300 exhibited clock speeds of 2.66 GHz during trial runs of real applications at this summer's Computex Taipei International Technology Show and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Technology Forum & Expo.

Cranking up performance
"The more energy-efficient processor is a balanced platform with fully buffered DIMM [dual in-line memory module] and four dedicated high-speed interconnects connecting these four cores of the processor," Skaugen said. "Since the execution has gone well, it will double performance of previous-generation Xeon MP with nice headroom going into the future microprocessor that will plug directly into the sockets as well, protecting IT investments."

From an energy-efficiency perspective, Skaugen said, Intel has "gotten down to 50-watt envelope for the first time, delivering up to twice the performance per watt of previous generations."

The addition of cores on a processor and having a four-socket system add up to greater performance, said Gordon Haff, an analyst at Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata Inc.

"Increasing the cores isn't the only way to crank up performance, but it's increasingly the most important way," Haff said. "As for having a four-socket system, this lets a user have a larger single-system image. While many workloads these days scale effectively across racks of distributed systems, some workloads run better on a single server with lots of shared memory. Such a server can also be a good platform for virtualization."

Charles King, principal analyst at Hayward, Calif.-based research firm Pund-IT Inc., also gave Tigerton the performance thumbs-up. "In the short term, the new architecture is likely to deliver significantly better performance than previous-generation Xeon chips," King said.

Part of that performance boost will come from new direct-connect technologies between the processors, he said, "allowing them to swap information more quickly." As the four-socket model becomes more mainstream, new blade server designs should emerge as well, Skaugen said.

Gaining lost ground
But according to King, the timing of this announcement reflects Intel's attempt to gain a competitive hold on AMD. "The real target for Intel here is AMD's newest four-core Barcelona, [that is] AMD's Opteron processors, which have been delayed for several months," he said. "With Opteron, AMD carved out a significant piece of Intel's server business for itself. With Tigerton, Intel hopes to take back some of the lost territory."

Barcelona will land in the marketplace Sept. 10. Because of AMD's common-core strategy, Barcelona will be a two-socket, four-socket and eight-socket solution, all with the same features and performance benefits and all at the same time, an AMD spokesperson said.

AMD asserts that its Barcelona Opteron processor has a clear advantage in the four-way multiprocessor space given AMD's Direct Connect Architecture, near-linear scaling, performance-per-watt and price-to-performance characteristics, the spokesperson said.

It is unknown whether Intel's Xeon 7300 four-socket quad-core processor will be on a single piece of silicon.

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

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