Quad core servers hit the streets

More grunt with less energy

With processor giant Intel releasing its quad-core Xeon processors to OEM partners this month, systems sporting four cores on one CPU should be available to customers within weeks, according to the company.

Intel's volume server processor road map will progress from the dual core Xeon 5100, or "Woodcrest", to the quad core Xeon 5300, or "Clovertown" over the end of 2006 and into 2007.

One to four-way servers with the new Clovertown CPUs will be rolling off OEM production lines before the end of the year, according to Intel Australia's strategic relations manager, Brett Hannath.

Hannath said the new quad core processor, compared to the current dual core, is 70 percent faster, according to the SPECint_rate benchmark.

"Is quad core really useful? If it's on a server it's very useful because many server applications are multi-threaded," Hannath said. "If the software is designed to be multithreaded then multi-core is brilliant."

Intel claims to have shipped 1 million Xeon 5100 dual core processors "winning market share" from its main competitor AMD.

Following the release of the Xeon 5300 this month, another low-power quad core processor will appear in early 2007 which Hannath said will reduce power consumption by 40 percent to around 50W.

The Clovertown Xeons will have uni-processor (UP) and multi-processor (MP) 7000 series which will scale up to 32-way systems.

Hannath said the rise of the "consumer datacentre" resulting from Web 2.0 applications like YouTube is putting pressure on capacity meaning there will be a lot more servers installed to support users.

"This is a concern to IT managers, CIOs and power companies," he said. "If we're going to have eight times as many servers in the datacentre there is one thing that's important - the amount of electricity things these use."

Hannath said as much as 25 percent of enterprise IT costs will be spent on power and Intel will focus on "keeping performance beyond user expectations and keeping power demands down".

"For notebooks this it is better battery life and for the datacentre it is reducing the amount of cooling and electricity," he said.

Quad core CPUs will also be coming to workstations next year and the next generation of Centrino, also due in 2007, will introduce 802.11n, NAND flash memory, and vPro for PC management over wireless networks. However, embedded 802.16, or WiMax, controllers will not appear until 2008.

Regarding silicon development, Hannath said there is no slow-down in Moore's Law because some 40 million 65nm CPUs have been shipped and 45nm processors will appear in the second half of 2007 which promises performance increases and reduced energy consumption.

"We have 15 45nm projects under way so our execution against Moore's Law is healthy," he said. "This year we had to reinvent how fast a CPU goes and how to reinvent the architecture. We also have 32nm parts being tested in the labs."

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Rodney Gedda

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