Intel plans to begin production on the new chip, code-named Nehalem-EX, in the second half of the year. Computer systems leveraging the technology are expected early next year.
Nehalem-EX will be added to Intel's Xeon line. Built on the chipmaker's current 45-nanometer manufacturing process, Nehalem-Ex will have eight processor cores on a single piece of silicon that will support 16 threads and 24 Mb of cache.
The processor will be offered in two- to eight-socket servers using Intel's Quick Path interconnect. Larger systems are expected from computer makers using third-party node controllers.
The performance boost from Nehalem-EX is significant, according to Intel. The new chip offers as much as nine times the memory bandwidth of Intel's current high-end processor line, the Xeon 7400. In addition, Nehalem-EX doubles the memory capacity with up to 16 memory slots per processor socket.
Intel also offers its Itanium architecture for high-end systems, but Itanium has never garnered the popularity of the company's x86 platform, which is the foundation of Nehalem-EX. Itanium is mostly used in Hewlett-Packard systems, although other computer makers also have developed computers with the technology.
Nehalem-EX takes x86 into computers where RISC-designed CPUs dominate. Such processors are made by IBM, Sun Microsystems, and others.
Such high-end systems are used in powering the largest data-demanding corporate applications, as well as in technical computing environments and in server consolidation. While the majority of servers shipping today have x86 processors, RISC systems sell for substantially more.
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