updated 02:25 pm EDT, Tue April 5, 2011
Intel Xeon E7 packs 10 cores
Intel on Tuesday brought out the Sandy Bridge-based version of its highest-performing Xeons. The Xeon E7 series is the practical version of the Westmere-EX architecture and is intended for both servers as well as other very high performance computers. It represents one of the few if not first Intel chips to break the eight-core barrier and, at 10 real cores, can handle as many as 20 simultaneous code threads at once through Hyperthreading.
All of the chips are based on a 32 nanometer manufacturing process and are both faster, as much as 40 percent versus the Xeon 7500 it replaces, as well as more power efficient. They can now entirely shut down parts of the chip not being used and save energy when the processor only has a light load. Parallelism is a focus and will see higher-end E7s work in systems with as many as 256 sockets, potentially leading to thousands of cores in a supercomputer-class PC.
At the top of the line, Intel is promising 10 versions of the 10-core chip that range from a 2.13GHz, relatively low-power 105W chip up to an ultimate 2.4GHz chip at 130W of power. Also on tap is an eight-core, 2.67GHz version at 130W for those who don't need as much ongoing at once.
An entry-level Xeon E3 series is also shipping that provides dual- and quad-core chips for companies that only need a light amount of work but who still want error-correcting memory and other features that don't exist in a regular
Systems are either being unveiled or shipping today from major companies like Dell, HP, Lenovo, and SGI. Prices for the E7 line ranges from $774 to $4,616 in bulk, where the E3 floats in a more mainstream $189 to $612 depending on the speed.