updated 05:45 pm EST, Fri March 5, 2010
Intel Nehalem-EX due for servers
Intel in an update late Thursday said its next-generation Xeon processors should still launch later this month. The eight-core Nehalem-EX processors don't have official clock speeds but will include 24MB of cache shared between each of the individual cores and will support Hyperthreading. A server with four Xeons could as a result support as many as 64 separate program threads at once, Xeon platform lead Shannon Poulin said.
The high-end chips will also have features that aren't normally found in other Xeons, such as discrete memory caches beyond the main processor to avoid accessing main RAM and an error detection system that can flag mistakes made on the processor, not just in RAM. Compared to regular Nehalem-based Xeons, it carries a quad-channel memory interface and will have more headroom if RAM is loaded in sets of four.
Nehalem-EX will primarily aim at high-end servers but should be joined at the same time by Westmere-EP, a six-core design based on Intel's 32nm process. The less aggressive design will be limited to two processors per computer but should be faster and more power-efficient than regular Xeons. Although Poulin still describes these as for servers, it's these processors that have normally found their way into high-end workstations like Apple's Mac Pro or HP's xw series.