Intel Delivers New Xeon Multicore Server CPUs

by Stuart J. Johnston

Two new families of server CPUs provide what Intel calls dramatic performance improvements for multicore systems at the high end and low end of the market.

Intel announced Tuesday it is shipping a slew of new Xeon server processors, dubbed E7, that support up to 10 cores, as well as the new E3 line designed for small business applications such as storage and backup.

The company's new E7 family of Xeon CPUs is built on Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) 32-nanometer processor technology, uses Intel's Hyperthreading Technology, and has as much as 40 percent better performance than the Xeon 7500 series processor, according to Intel statements.

Overall, Intel's new E7 family consists of 18 processors that fit two-, four-, and eight-socket servers. Additionally, they are expandable to servers with as many as 256 sockets, Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) said. In fact, a single E7 processor system can replace as many as 18 dual-core CPUs, the company claims.

"The industry momentum we're seeing for this new server processor architecture is unparalleled in Intel's history," Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center Group, said in a statement.

The new 10-core versions of the CPUs -- E7-8870, E7-4870 and E7-2870 -- can all run at up to 2.4 GHz with a Thermal Design Point (TDP) of 130 watts.

Intel also announced versions of the chip with lower-voltage demands, the company said. New power-saving features enable the E7 family to selectively shut down power to idle sections of the chips, using Intel's Intelligent Power technology.

For example, the 10-core low-voltage E7-8867L will run at 2.13 GHz with a TDP of 105 watts, while the eight-core frequency-optimized E7-8837 will run at up to 2.67 GHz with a TDP of 130 watts, the company said.

The E7 family also sports support for as much as 2 TB of memory on a four-socket system.

Many of the new chips use Intel's Turbo Boost, Hyperthreading, and Virtualization technologies. In addition, E7 processors designed to provide mission-critical support, deliver Advanced Encryption Standard New Instruction (AES-NI) for fast encryption and decryption, while Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) protects applications at boot up from malicious threats, according to Intel.

Meanwhile, besides storage and backup uses, the new E3-1200 family is optimized for small business applications and collaboration. The E3-1200 family also supports AES-NI and TXT security.

"With up to 30 percent greater performance over the previous generation, the Xeon processor E3-1200 product family is faster and provides higher reliability than a desktop computer running similar applications," Intel's statement said.

Prices for the E3-1200 family range between $189 and $612 in quantities of 1,000, while the E7-8800/4800/2800 families range from $774 to $4,616.

Intel said that in coming days and weeks it expects more than 35 E7 platforms to be announced by leading vendors, including Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Lenovo, NEC, Oracle and Unisys.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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This article was originally published on Tuesday Apr 5th 2011
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