Five reasons to embrace Intel Xeon 5600 processors

Intel Xeon 5600 processors offer advantages over legacy CPU's that data centers can receive immediate benefits from.

Intel unveiled an array of new Xeon 5600 server processors. Like the Core i7 980x desktop processors, the Xeon 5600 chips deliver up to six CPU cores on the more efficient 32nm architecture.

Processor evolution used to be all about clock speed. Each generation of new CPU just added more GHz to the bottom-line speed of the processor. Now, clock speed is more or less maxed out, and processor evolution is based on developing CPU's that are more energy efficient, and cram more cores into a single processor.

Upgrading server hardware to adopt the latest processors can be an expensive undertaking--at least in terms of the initial investment. However, depending on the hardware currently deployed in your data center, few IT purchases offer an ROI (return on investment) as direct or guaranteed as embracing the latest processor technology.

Here are five reasons you should have Intel Xeon 5600 processors in your servers:

1. Hyperthreading. Six cores is impressive, but--with Intel's hyperthreading technology--each core is virtualized into two processors, effectively creating a 12-core processor. Using software optimized to utilize multiple processor cores, and multiple threads within the processor cores, can yield significantly more processing power than past generations of CPU.

2. Space. One Intel Xeon 5600 processor can potentially replace up to 15 servers using single-core processors. That means that you can consolidate fifteen servers down to one physical machine--reducing the hardware costs and minimizing the need for maintenance and administration.

3. Electricity. Aside from squeezing more cores into a single physical processor, Intel also continues to advance the energy efficiency of the CPU with each evolution. Newer processors are able to crank out more computing power while drawing less electric power, cutting down on your energy costs.

4. Cooling. An extension of being more energy efficient is that newer processors produce less heat. Less heat in the data center means less need for cooling. Keeping the data center cool consumes a significant amount of power as well, so lower cooling needs also equate to lower energy costs.

5. Security. One of the most important, and arguably most ignored, features of the latest CPU technology is the new instruction set optimized to improve encryption performance. The Intel Xeon 5600 processors include the Advanced Encryption Standard-New Instructions (AES-NI) for faster encryption, as well as Intel's TXT (Trusted Execution Transaction) technology to secure data being moved through virtual environments.

Processor technology advances quickly--launching new lines of processors with bigger, better, faster, more technology so fast it's hard to keep up. And, each line of processors has so many options (there are 15 different processors in this Xeon 5600 line) it can be difficult to understand the benefits of one over the other.

Moore's Law (and AMD's research and development) ensure that something else will soon come along to make your technology obsolete. Technology waits for no one. However, the benefits of implementing these new Intel Xeon 5600 processors outweigh the risks for most organizations.

Tony Bradley is co-author of Unified Communications for Dummies. He tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW. You can follow him on his Facebook page, or contact him by email at tony_bradley@pcworld.com.

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