updated 07:30 pm EST, Sun November 11, 2007
Intel 45nm Core 2 and Xeon
As promised, Intel today released its first processors based on 45-nanometer manufacturing process and the accompanying new Penryn architecture. The unveiling is headlined by the Xeon 5400, according to the company. Billed as one of the fastest processors ever for workstations and servers, the new model uses the reduced power and heat demands of 45nm to increase the clock speed of a quad-core chip to a new high of 3.2GHz while also increasing the system bus speed to 1.6GHz and the level 2 cache to 12MB. These increases combine with new features to set new records for speed while also reducing the overall size and running more efficiently, Intel claims through its tests.
One of these new features is the SSE4 (Streaming SIMD Extensions 4) instruction set, Intel says. The 47 new commands are said to dramatically speed up media functions such as editing photos or encoding video while also providing a lift to cluster computing and similarly high-end tasks. Operations as simple as dividing numbers or as complex as launching a virtual machine are also faster than with the Xeon 5300.
Beyond the top model, the Xeon family also includes 2.8GHz and 3GHz models that share the same bus but lower the clock rate to reduce price; models between 2GHz and 3.16GHz offer the same quad-core architecture but a reduced 1.33GHz bus. A low-cost option, the Xeon 5200 series, halves the number of cores to two with an according 6MB of level 2 cache but offers clock speeds between 1.86GHz and 3.4GHz.
Gamers and other home users are served by a single processor with the launch. The 3GHz Core 2 Extreme QX9650 is claimed as the fastest home CPU today and shares the same 12MB of level 2 cache, SSE4, and most other improvements of the quad-core Xeon but with a reduced 1.33GHz bus and the absence of support for multiple discreet sockets in a single PC.
All of the new processors should be available through pre-built systems as early as tomorrow but no later than 45 days away, Intel explains. Batch prices for resellers will range from $177 for the 1.86GHz dual-core Xeon to $1,279 for the 3.2GHz quad-core flagship. The Core 2 Extreme addition will be available in similar batches for $999, Intel adds. No system builders are named as partners in the initial announcement but are expected to include Apple as well as companies that have made early announcements of Xeon 5200 and 5400 systems such as HP and Lenovo.