updated 03:20 pm EDT, Mon September 15, 2008
Intel Xeon 7400
Intel this afternoon fulfilled a promise and launched the Xeon 7400. The processor once nicknamed "Dunnington" is the first x86 architecture design to hold six cores and is targeted at very high-end computing where sheer parallelism is more important than clock rate; it's particularly useful for virtual machines and databases, Intel suggests. The chipmaker estimates a speed boost of as much as 50 percent and helps this in part by a similar increase in Level 2 cache to 16MB as well as dedicated virtualization features on the cores themselves.
The processor line tops out at a lower clock speed than quad- or dual-core Xeons and sees the top model reach 2.66GHz with the same 130W of peak power as higher-clocked quad core systems. A 2.4GHz model carries most of the performance but at 90W, while a 2.13GHz entry runs at 65W and is suited to rack servers or other thin servers and workstations. Four quad-core models are also available; the top 2.4GHz version carries the same 16MB of cache as six-core systems and uses 90W of power. The remaining three clock in at 2.13GHz but use cache and power use to determine their speed, with a regular 90W version loading up 12MB of cache, a budget version stripping down to 8MB of cache, and a low-voltage model carrying 12MB but using just 50W of energy.
Intel expects several large-scale PC companies to build systems on the chips, which range in cost from $856 to $2,729 in batches of 1,000. The new Xeons are the last before the transition to the new Core i7 architecture but should result in some of the techniques involved in their design rolled into other processors.