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3/16/2010
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Intel Launches Six Core Server Processors

The Xeon 5600 series microprocessors, built using Intel's 32-nm technology, deliver 60% greater performance and use less energy than their predecessor.

 Intel Xeon 5600 Server Processor
(click image for larger view)
Intel Xeon 5600 Server Processor
Intel on Tuesday introduced the Xeon 5600 series microprocessors that include the company's first six-core server chips.

The new series comprises 15 products, including a trio of chips for embedded systems, and are built using the company's 32-nanometer processor technology. The series is the successor to Intel's 45-nm 5500 series introduced a year ago.

In releasing the 5500 series, Intel said the products were "as significant and as transformational as the Pentium Pro" introduced more than 10 years before. The latest series, however, ups the ante, because of the transition to 32-nm technology, according to Intel.

Benefits of the new lineup include speed. The 5600 series delivers up to 60% greater performance than its predecessor. As a result, 15 single-core servers running 5500 series processors can be replaced with a single 5600 series server, Intel says. In addition, customers can achieve a return on investment with the latest products in as little as five months versus eight months for the 5500 series.

The 5600 series offers better security through a new set of security instructions that deliver faster data encryption and decryption. The new chips also have Intel's TXT processor-based security shield that provides more protection for applications moved between virtualized servers.

The latest products also deliver better power efficiency. For example, a two-socket server using the low-voltage, six-core L5640 chip can deliver the same performance as last year's X5570 processor, but with up to 30% less power consumption, Intel says.

The 5600 series, code-named Westmere, is compatible with the same motherboard sockets as the 5500 series. The new products all have 12 MB of L3 cache.

The seven quad-core server models have a peak clock speed of 3.46 GHz with a top thermal design power of 130 watts. The five six-core versions reach a top speed of 3.33 GHz with the same maximum TDP. The low-voltage six-core and quad-core models have TDPs as low as 60 watts and 40 watts, respectively. Prices range from $387 to $1,663 each in quantities of 1,000.

System manufacturers expected to release servers based on the 5600 series include Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Oracle.

Along with server chips, the 5600 series also include a trio of processors for the embedded computing segment, including two six-core models and a quad-core version. The chips include seven-year lifecycle support and have prices ranging from $530 to $958 each in quantities of 1,000.

Intel also officially released the six-core Core i7-980X Extreme Edition desktop/workstation processor, demonstrated last week at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The chip, which has a clock speed of 3.33 GHz, is priced at $999 in quantities of 1,000 units.

Intel's new six-core server processors will compete with Advanced Micro Devices' eight- and 12-core Opteron chips, codenamed Magny-Cours. The new products are scheduled for release by the end of the month.

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