Next-Gen Xeons Could Boost Performance By 3.5 Times - InformationWeek
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Next-Gen Xeons Could Boost Performance By 3.5 Times

Intel's new architecture for server processors will boost performance per watt and combine the best of features found in two of the company's existing microarchitectures.

Servers based on Intel's next-generation architecture will increase performance per watt by up to 3.5 times over existing single-core Xeon processors, the company said Tuesday at its developer forum in San Francisco.

The architecture introduced Tuesday will combine the best of features found in two existing microarchitectures, said Paul Otellini, president and chief executive, and will "enable the continued delivery of increased performance without the power penalties we saw with the previous gigahertz approach" to chip improvements.

Processors based on the new architecture, which Intel didn't code-name, are expected to be available in the second half of 2006. Planned dual-core Xeon platforms include the Woodcrest for dual- and multiprocessor servers, dual-core Pentium processors for the Conroe platform in home and office PCs, and dual-core Pentium M processors for the Merom platform in mobile applications.

In addition, Intel plans to introduce four-core Xeons for the multiprocessor server market as part of the Whitefield platform in 2007.

"We will deliver a factor of 10 breakthroughs to a variety of platforms that can reduce energy consumption tenfold or bring 10 times the performance of today's products," Otellini said. For example, Intel plans to introduce a processor for "handtop" computing systems that will operate at 0.5 watts power consumption, well below the current 5-watt power consumption associated with its lowest-power mobile processors.

The reductions in performance per watt will let businesses and other users save as much as $1 billion in power costs for every 100 million CPU sockets deployed, he said.

The new architecture will combine the best features found in the current NetBurst architecture used in Intel's Pentium 4, Pentium D, and Xeon processor lines, with best of those in the Banias architecture used in its Pentium M mobile product line, plus other newly integrated features, said Stephen Smith, VP of Intel's digital enterprise group.

Examples of features from NetBurst included in the new architecture are the *T embedded IT technologies such as active management, virtualization, and 64-bit capabilities, which will be combined with the power-optimization features of the mobile Banias architecture.

New features of the next-generation architecture will include a higher-performance out-of-order execution engine, an enhanced multicore cache memory system, and improved memory access, Smith said.

By the second half of next year, companies will be able to deploy servers based on Xeon processors using the new architecture that will provide twice the overall performance of existing single-core Xeon systems and 3.5 times the performance per watt of those systems, he said.

Intel recently said that its first dual-core Xeon processors are expected to begin shipping later this year, about three to five months earlier than previously scheduled. The company says those processors are expected to deliver about a 50% to 60% improvement in performance over single-core Pentiums.

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