updated 12:20 pm EST, Thu November 13, 2008
Xeon i7 in Early 2009
Intel's Core i7 architecture will translate to workstation- and server-class Xeon processors early next year, leaks from server builders and separate sources indicates. Though not in time for the holidays, the faster Xeon 5500 line will be dominated by quad-core chips and should be headlined by a 3.2GHz, 130-watt Xeon W5580. Its Level 2 cache will drop from 12MB to 8MB but should be offset by Core i7's QuickPath architecture, which reduces the lag in accessing memory and peripherals. It should cost about $1,600 in batches of 1,000 for computer suppliers.
Several lower-clocked models should also be available and include 2GHz (E5504), 2.13GHz (E5506), 2.26GHz (E5520), 2.4GHz (E5530), 2.53GHz (E5540), 2.66GHz (X5550), 2.8GHz (X5560) and a last 2.93GHz (X5570) part. All of the X-series chips will have the same 8MB cache as the 3.2GHz chip but will consume a more modest 95W of power; the E-series halves the cache to 4MB but also drops to 80W of power use. Bulk prices should vary between $224 and $1,386 for the processors.
There are also three quad-core Xeon 3500 processors that will have the same 8MB cache as the 5500 but will only run in single-socket systems versus the dual socket ability of the high-end Xeons. These should come in 2.66GHz (W3520), 2.93GHz (W3540) and 3.2GHz (W3570) speed grades at much lower prices between $284 and $999.
A lone dual-core model, the 1.86GHz Xeon E5502, is due at the same time for $188.
If unaltered, the reported introduction is slightly later than usual for Intel, which lately has made a practice of introducing at least a small number of Xeons along with high-end mainstream chips for a November release. However, the release schedule potentially signals upgrades to workstations that regularly receive updates early in the year, such as Apple's Mac Pro line.