Feeds

Intel showcases 'transformational' Nehalem

It's the next Pentium Pro, apparently

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

Nehalem Day Intel's "Nehalem EP" Xeon 5500 series of processors for two-socket servers were announced this afternoon. Finally. Now, the server market can breathe a sigh of relief and set about the difficult task of trying to peddle better boxes in a worsening economy. Which sure beats trying to sell last year's machines this year.

Today, in Santa Clara, California, Intel general manager Pat Gelsinger characterized the launch of the Xeon 5500 chips and their related chipset, the "Tylersburg" 5520, as the most important server chip launch since the Pentium Pro was introduced back in 1995.

Back then, Gelsinger explained, the Pentium Pro was the first x86 chip that had native multiprocessing capability built into it. (Some niche server vendors back then had created their own chipsets to glue multiple Pentium chips together to make SMP servers, of course, but Gelsinger didn't mention that). It was also the first Intel chip to feature out-of-order execution, a nifty technology that had been experimented with on RISC and other processors to boost performance.

The Pentium Pro laid the groundwork for the standard, high-volume server platform, Gelsinger explained, which is absolutely true, and by the time it evolved into the Xeon family, the dot-com boom exploded and x86 rack servers started flying out of the factories of Intel's partners like a hotcakes. This will show you how much things have changed since then.

Back in 1995, when the Pentium Pro was launched, Intel's partners pushed maybe 700,000 servers a year, and those machines represented less than 10 per cent of the global revenue for servers. These days, the vast majority of the 8 million servers shipped per year are x64 machines, and these boxes account for a little more than half of all revenues.

It will take another dozen years before we can declare the Nehalem EP server launch to be as "transformational" as Gelsinger and his peers at Intel want us to believe it is, but the fact is that the Nehalem EP chip is exactly the high-volume, high-performance, energy-efficient chip that should have been launched years ago, not today.

Intel's customers have Advanced Micro Devices to thank for the long road from the appallingly-bad Paxville Xeon DPs back in late 2005 to the Nehalem EPs launched today. Had AMD not been aggressive with the Opteron design - including 64-bit memory extensions, multicore capabilities, point-to-point interconnection between processors, memory, and I/O, integrated memory controllers, and lots of other goodies - Intel would probably still be talking about 32-bit Xeons and the inevitable move to 64-bit Itaniums.

There are seventeen different Nehalem EP chips, including a dozen Xeon 5500 parts for two-socket servers, three Xeon 3500 variants that plug into uniprocessor servers, and two low-voltage parts that are intended to be used in embedded applications. A couple of the chips have only two cores, but most of them have four cores on the die. The chips have either 4 MB or 8 MB of L3 cache and have bandwidth on the QuickPath Interconnect interfaces that ranges from 4.8 GT/sec to 6.4 GT/sec.

The old Xeon architecture had a frontside bus that fed out to elements on the system board, which ran at a certain speed (800 MHz, 1.33 GHz, whatever), but Intel has to measure the billions of transfers per second that QPI can handle because it isn't just pointing in one direction, but in many directions.

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Next page: The lineup

More from The Register

next story
Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in
He walked over the broken glass, killed the thugs... and er... reconnected the cables*
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
SHOCK and AWS: The fall of Amazon's deflationary cloud
Just as Jeff Bezos did to books and CDs, Amazon's rivals are now doing to it
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
The triumph of VVOL: Everyone's jumping into bed with VMware
'Bandwagon'? Yes, we're on it and so what, say big dogs
Carbon tax repeal won't see data centre operators cut prices
Rackspace says electricity isn't a major cost, Equinix promises 'no levy'
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.