Intel is initially selling the new Xeon to computer makers in dual-processor configurations with plans to introduce a four-processor version in the coming weeks. The chip comes in versions that run at speeds of 2.2, 2, and 1.8 GHz. Intel officials say the Xeon architecture will eventually reach speeds of 10 GHz.
The chip is paired with a new Intel chipset circuitry that lets the processor communicate with other components, which also helps boost performance. The E7500 chipset, which is compatible with DDR memory, offers twice the memory bandwidth of older systems that work with slower SDRAM memory. Server vendors are also free to package the chips with chipsets from third-party vendors.
The new technology, known as Hyper-Threading, makes a single processor appear as two to an application that has been designed to recognize it, leading to faster performance, according to Intel. Two processors would appear as four. Hyper-Threading also lets a chip more effectively manage incoming data from different applications, continuously switching from one set of instructions to the other. Intel says a number of software developers, including Microsoft, have pledged support for Hyper-Threading.