Intel this week said its Nehalem-EX processor, an 8-core beast of a chip, will go into production sometime later this year and start shipping in server systems by early 2010. Even better, each chip supports 16 threads, says Boy Davis, Intel's GM of the Server Platforms Marketing Group.
Already on-board is IBM, who is already developing a server based around Nehalem-EX. The server will hold eight processors, making use of 64 Nehalem-EX cores capable of handling 128 threads.
"We're very excited today to be the first to demonstrate Nehalem-EX," said Alex Yost, VP IBM BladeCenter.
In addition to more cores and threads, Nehalem-EX also ups the memory ante, doubling the capacity with up to 16 memory slots per processor socket.
There's a reason Intel's Celeron line has consistently proven popular among overclockers. Out of CPU-Z's top 20 list of highest clocked CPUs, Celeron chips -- most of them of the Celeron 347 variety -- occupy 12 spots, or 60 percent of the list. And recently setting a new record for the No. 2 spot, Belgian overclocker 'Blind' from Madshrimps pushed his Celeron 352 chip (Cedarmill core) to 8.116GHz.
In order to ramp up that high, Blind used the Dragon F1 Extreme Edition LN2 cooler with gum filling the gaps around the socket to prevent condensation. It took nearly 1.9V to coax the Celeron past 8GHz, well above its stock 1.3V rating.
Such high voltages and extreme cooling methods limit the usefulness to chasing overclocking records as opposed to any kind of day-to-day operations, but we'll admit to being impressed at seeing a 3.2GHz Celeron achieve almost a 5GHz OC. And hey, reaching 5.7GHz on air isn't too shabby either.
Originally scheduled to debut in July, DigiTimes says Intel has gone ahead and postponed the launch of its Core i5 platform until the first half of September, or so that's what "sources at motherboard makers" have been telling them.
Bummer, right? Maybe not. The news and rumor site went on to say that Core i5 processors will show up in the retail sector by late August, with P55-based motherboards surfacing in mid-August. So to sum it up, Core i5 has been delayed until September, but Core i7 will be available in August. Color us confused.
As it currently stands, Core i5 will launch in three speed grades: 2.93GHz, 2.8GHz,and 2.66GHz for $562, $284, and $196, respectively (thousand-unit trays).
It's official. Now that Lenovo has announced its Ion-based IdeaPad S12, Intel's Atom platform finally has some competition in the netbook arena.
"We've heard from consumers loud and clear about the need for affordable and extremely portable computing devices, and we've responded by introducing our third netbook with a completely new form factor, making mini-computing more usable and redefining value in today's market," said Dion Weisler, vice president, Business Operations, Idea Product Group, Lenovo. "We are pioneering new territory in the developing netbook arena by being the first vendor to give customers high quality video and entertainment capabilities in a netbook with optional Nvidia Ion graphics."
The new 12-inch netbook comes equipped with an Intel Atom N270 processor (1.6GHz, 533MHz frontside bus, 512KB L2 cache), up to 1GB of DDR2-533 memory, up to a 320GB hard drive, and of course integrated Nvidia Ion graphics, the main selling point of the S12.
GottaBeMobile.com has posted videos of the new ultraportable in action, noting that it's "fully capable of being a primary computer for those with basic needs." And we have to admit, the prospect of HD video and serviceable Call of Duty 4 framerates on a sub-$500 portable is mighty appealing.
Lenovo says the S12 will be available in June through business partners starting at $450, with Nvidia Ion-based units "available later this summer."
AMD already offers a handful of chips built on a 45nm manufacturing process, but if what motherboard makers are telling news and rumor site DigiTimes turns out to be true, the No. 2 chip maker will fully embrace 45nm for its desktop parts next quarter. These include dual-core Phenom II X2 500 series and Athlon II X2 200 series in June, followed by quad-core Athlon II X4 600 series and triple-core Athlon II X3 400 series in September.
In addition, AMD has a few new CPUs on tap for an end of Q2 / beginning of Q3 release. DigiTimes says we'll see the Phenom X2 550 and 545 both launch by the end of the second quarter, and the quad-core Phenom II X4 945 (95W) and 8xx (95W), triple-core Phenom II X3 7xx (95W), quad-core Athlon II X4 630 and 620, triple-core Athlon II X3 435 and 425, and dual-core Ahtlon II X2 250, 245, and 240 all in the third quarter. This in addition to 10 low-power CPUs.
Intel's Atom platform has been such a resounding success, one has to wonder what the No. 1 chip maker has planned for a follow-up. You don't have to wonder anymore, as Intel this week officially unveiled 'Pine Trail', the codename for Atom's successor.
The CPU used in Pine Trail, called 'Pineview,' moves the memory controller and GPU onto the same die as the CPU. This means Pine Trail will be a two-chip solution, one less than Intel's current netbook platform. In theory, this should result in cost savings and lower power consumption.
Pineview is being built on a 45nm manufacturing process. Intel hasn't said what type of memory controller it will use, though previous speculation pointed to single-channel DDR2. But what's most interesting is how the war between Intel and Nvidia is shaping up. Like Pine Trail, Nvidia's Ion platform is also a two-chip solution and will have had time to mature by the time Pine Trail debuts later this year. Performance looks to be better on the 9400M-based Ion as well, but Intel's price structure for selling standalone Atoms could put Nvidia at a disadvantage. Moreover, what chips will Nvidia use once Intel makes the move to a CPU+GPU solution?
In an ironic twist, Dell, who was the last major OEM to add AMD chips to its server line, will now be the first to give VIA a spin in select low-power servers, The New York Times reports.
"This one is a big, major win for us, said Epan Wu, senior director of chip marketing at VIA, about the Dell system.
The 'major win' consists of Dell outfitting 12 full servers powered by VIA's Nano processor in a single 3.5-inch high case dubbed the XS11-VX8. Each server will only consume from 15 watts to 30 watts, or about 10 percent that of a typical server, and run at 1.3GHz to 1.6GHz.
According to The New York Times, the XS11-VX8 isn't intended for the masses and will instead be sold as a specialized system targeting companies that buy in bulk to host websites. As such, the new server will only be offered through a special group within Dell responsible for creating custom hardware for its bigger customers.
Nevertheless, Wu has reason to be excited, as the deal puts VIA on the map with Dell, something that didn't come easy for AMD.
Fujitsu this week laid a humdinger on Intel by unveiling the world's fastest CPU. The new chip is thought to be about 2.5 times faster than anything Intel has in its lineup, while also consuming two-thirds less power.
You can put any grandiose ideas of picking one up and setting new benchmarking records to rest, as the 'Venus' chip, or otherwise known as the SPARC64 VIIIfx, is designed for supercomputers. As such, Fujitsu claims the new CPU can process a mind boggling 128 billion computations per second, making Fujitsu the first Japanese firm in a decade to wear the raw CPU performance crown.
Built on a 45nm manufacturing process, Venus comes with eight cores and an integrated memory controller spread across two square centimeters. Fujitsu says it will take several years to come up with practical applications for the new chip, but that it could see use in pharmaceutical research, astronomy, weather prediction, scientific researching, and Folding@Home while running Crysis (we may have added the last two on our own).
You may have thought Intel's Atom processor line was only suitable for netbooks and nettops, but 'au contraire mon fraire,' says Supermicro, who recently announced the launch of 4W and 8W Atom server solutions.
"Bringing the low-power consumption advantages of Atom processors to the server appliance market empowers our customers with energy-saving, quiet solutions that provide flexible expansion and storage features previously unattainable with Atom solutions," said Charles Lian, president and CEO of Supermicro.
Two platforms are being outfitted with Intel Atom chips, the X7SLA-L with a single-core Atom 230 processor, support for up to four SATA ports with RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10, seven USB 2.0 headers, 2GB of DDR2 memory, and Intel GMA 950 graphics, and the X7SLA-H, which uses the dual-core Atom 330 processor and doubles up power consumption from 4W to 8W.
Both servers weight just 10 pounds and are under 10 inches deep, and both offer support for full-height, half-length expansion cards. They're also quiet thanks to a fanless chassis.
One of the best-kept secrets about Windows 7, its support for a Virtual Windows XP mode, has become a potential headache for a lot of computer users who want to keep running fussy legacy apps under Windows 7. To maintain high system performance, Virtual Windows XP Mode requires the processor to support hardware virtualization (and the system BIOS must enable the feature).
As ZDNet's Ed Bott reports, trying to figure out which Intel processors have hardware virtualization (known in IntelLand as VT support) requires a lot of time with the Intel Hardware Spec Finder. Ed spent the time, so you don't have to wonder about Intel desktop or mobile CPUs (but check the update on page 1 for news about some CPUs that are getting updated to add VT support).
What about AMD CPUs? That's a bit easier to figure out, thanks to a statement from an AMD spokesperson quoted by Cnet:
All CPUs AMD is currently shipping, except Sempron, include AMD-V and therefore support XP mode.With the exceptions of Sempron-branded processors and Turion K8 Rev E processors, all notebook processors shipped by AMD include AMD-V and therefore support Windows 7 XP mode. With the exceptions of Sempron-branded processors and pre-Rev F Athlon branded processors, all of the desktop processors shipped by AMD include AMD-V and therefore support Windows 7 in XP mode. Also, all AMD Opteron processors shipped by AMD from Rev F forward include AMD-V.
Want an even easier way to get the virtualization scoop on your systems? PCWorld recommends the SecureAble test page at the Gibson Research Corporation website. Run SecurAble to determine if your processor supports hardware virtualization, hardware data execution protection (DEP) and to learn if it's a 32-bit or 64-bit CPU. Give SecurAble a try and let us know if you found any surprises about your system.