Intel today announced the official release of their Dunnington-based Xeon 7400 server CPU. The six-core chip is monolithic, meaning that all six cores are on one die, and is the first Xeon CPU to sport that design. The previous 7300 series CPU, dubbed Tigerton, was a quad-core processor with two dual-core chips on a single module (like existing quad-core consumer chips). As expected, Dunnington is still of the Penryn architecture (45nm High-K manufacturing process), and will be compatible with current Tigerton Socket 604 motherboards.
Speed-wise, Intel claims a 50% performance increase in the 7400 over the 7300 series CPU based on TPC-E database benchmark testing (TPC-E simulates the online transaction workload of a large brokerage firm). More impressive is Intel’s claim that even with the improved performance, Dunnington’s energy efficiency actually means it uses 10% lower power than the previous generation. The gains are largely attributed to the presence of a new 16MB level-3 cache, in addition to the extra compute power of two more cores. Xeon 7400 CPUs will launch at 2.66Ghz with either four or six core, and will be priced from $856 to $2729.
What does this mean for consumers? Unfortunately, not much. Intel has no current plans to release a six-core CPU to the mainstream market, and few applications would be able to scale well enough to take full advantage of the additional two cores. Intel seems to be pushing Nehalem for the consumer market, which will launch as a quad-core. Dunnington customers – large Web 2.0 companies like Myspace – will be the ones who benefit most from the extra performance and power efficiency, which may enable them to develop compute-intensive features like high-definition video sharing.