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Intel showcases 'transformational' Nehalem

It's the next Pentium Pro, apparently

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The lineup

Here's the Nehalem EP lineup, with their basic feeds and speeds (name, clock speed, core count, cache, wattage, bandwidth, and price each for 1,000-unit trays).

For two-socket servers and workstations:

  • W5580: 3.2 GHz, quad-core, 8 MB L2 cache, 130 watts, 6.4 GT/sec; $1,600
  • X5570: 2.93 GHz, quad-core, 8 MB L2 cache, 95 watts, 6.4 GT/sec; $1,386
  • X5560: 2.8 GHz, quad-core, 8 MB L2 cache, 95 watts, 6.4 GT/sec; $1,172
  • X5550: 2.66 GHz, quad-core, 8 MB L2 cache, 95 watts, 6.4 GT/sec; $958
  • E5540: 2.53 GHz, quad-core, 8 MB L2 cache, 80 watts, 5.86 GT/sec; $744
  • E5530: 2.4 GHz, quad-core, 8 MB L2 cache, 80 watts, 5.86 GT/sec; $530
  • E5520: 2.26 GHz, quad-core, 8 MB L2 cache, 80 watts, 5.86 GT/sec; $373
  • E5506: 2.13 GHz, quad-core, 4 MB L2 cache, 80 watts, 4.8 GT/sec; $266
  • E5504: 2 GHz, quad-core, 4 MB L2 cache, 80 watts, 4.8 GT/sec; $224
  • E5502: 1.86 GHz, dual-core, 4 MB L2 cache, 80 watts, 4.8 GT/sec; $188
  • L5520: 2.26 GHz, quad-core, 8 MB L2 cache, 60 watts, 5.86 GT/sec; $530
  • L5506: 2.13 GHz, quad-core, 4 MB L2 cache, 60 watts, 4.8 GT/sec; $423

For uniprocessor servers and workstations:

  • W3570: 3.2 GHz, quad-core, 8 MB L2 cache, 130 watts, 6.4 GT/sec; $999
  • W3540: 2.93 GHz, quad-core, 8 MB L2 cache, 130 watts, 4.8 GT/sec; $562
  • W3520: 2.66 GHz, quad-core, 8 MB L2 cache, 130 watts, 4.8 GT/sec; $284

And for embedded servers - core count, cache and bandwidth not yet known - which have a seven-year lifecycle as required by makers of embedded systems:

  • L5518: 2.13 GHz, 60 watts; $530
  • L5508: 2 GHz, 38 watts; $423

The Nehalem EP processor has just over 730 million transistors and is manufactured on a 45 nanometer Hi-K process. The Penryn microarchitecture that debuted in earlier Xeon processors has been tweaked, according to Gelsinger, including deeper out-of-order execution, branch prediction, and a slew of enhancements to make server virtualization have less overhead than it currently does.

But the virtualization software has to be tweaked to take full advantage of these new VT-d and related features, he cautioned. With the new virtualization features coupled with VMware's future vSphere virtualization hypervisor, four server makers (Cisco, IBM, Dell, and Inspire) have demonstrated about a 160 per cent improvement in performance on the VMark virtualization benchmark from VMware compared to prior "Harpertown" Xeon 5400 servers.

"Our goal is to get native performance on virtual machines," explained Gelsinger, but he conceded that Intel may not be able to get the overhead all the way down to zero.

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Next page: (Semi-)Turbo Boost

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