Intel may not ship Nehalem EX until early 2010

Upcoming line of high-end server chips will offer up to eight-cores on a single piece of silicon

Intel may not release its upcoming Nehalem EX line of Xeon chips for servers that have four or more processors until early next year, an Intel executive said.

"What you'll get at the beginning of next year - late this year or the beginning of next year - will be the push into the four-socket, eight-socket and above space," said Shannon Poulin, Xeon platform director in Intel's Server Products Group, discussing the Nehalem EX release schedule during an interview.

Nehalem EX is Intel's next-generation line of x86 server chips designed for servers with four or more processors.

They are expected to have up to eight cores on a single chip, in addition to an on-chip memory controller and support for Intel's QuickPath Interconnect technology, which greatly increases memory bandwidth.

On Intel's product roadmap, the Nehalem EX processors follow the Nehalem EP chips, released Tuesday, which are designed for servers and workstations that use one or two processors. The EP variants have up to four cores on a single processor.

Intel executives have not given a firm release date for Nehalem EX, but they have previously said the chip would likely be released during the second half of this year.

In recent years, Intel updated its high-end server chips in September, suggesting the same might happen this year. For example, last year Intel released its six-core Dunnington processors in September

With the chips now set to hit the market later than September, this suggests a slower product release cycle than in recent years.

But Poulin said putting the Nehalem EX chips on the market at the beginning of 2010 doesn't mean they're coming late.

"Generally we see a lag between the 2-socket and 4-socket and above [chips] ... a historic low was seven to eight months and a historic high is probably a year and a half or so," Poulin said. "This one kind of falls right in the middle."

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