Intel to release Westmere server chips in three months

Chips will bring faster performance to servers

Intel plans to release next-generation Xeon server processors based on the Westmere microarchitecture in the next three months, the company said on Thursday.

Intel plans to refresh its line of Xeon server chips as it ramps up chip production to the 32-nanometer process, said Paul Otellini, Intel's CEO, during a financial earnings call. Intel last week released the first Westmere chips for desktops and laptops, and Xeon server chips are next in line, Otellini said.

The last refresh for server chips was in March last year, when the company announced a range of Xeon 5500 series and 3500 series chips based on the Nehalem architecture. The chips were made using the 45-nm process.

The highly anticipated eight-core Nehalem-EX server chip will also be released in the first half, an Intel spokesman said on Thursday. Nehalem-EX will be Intel's fastest server chip to date, Otellini said during the call. The chip will be manufactured using the 45-nm process.

Intel is targeting Nehalem-EX at high-end systems running data-intensive applications such as databases. The chip is based on the Nehalem microarchitecture, which cut data bottlenecks that plagued earlier architectures to improve system performance. An integrated memory controllers helps the CPU communicate faster with systems components or other CPUs inside a system.

The Nehalem-EX chips also includes improvements to meet the specific needs of high-end servers. Error-correction technology derived from its high-end Itanium chips will help reduce data corruption and ensure reliable server performance.

Servers based on Nehalem-EX will also include separate buffered memory chips that can temporarily store data alongside main memory for faster task execution.

Westmere is based on the same underpinnings of the Nehalem architecture, but the chips are made using the advanced 32-nm process. Westmere should bring improved performance and power benefits realized from the advanced manufacturing process to server processors.

For example, the chip package will include an integrated graphics processor with the CPU in a multi-chip package. The high levels of integration will lead to smaller chip sizes that deliver better graphics and processing performance while consuming less power.

For servers, Westmere also adds a new instruction set for faster data encryption and decryption called Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), the company has said. That could help secure data residing in servers or virtualized environments. Both the Nehalem-EX and Westmere-EP chips will be capable of shutting down idle cores to save power.

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