Intel on Tuesday announced the availability of the“Westemere-EX” family of 32nm server chips. The launch means that the title of Intel's fastest server chip, which hitherto belonged to the native 8-core Nehalem-EX processor, now firmly rests with the 10-core Westemere-EX. The new chips, eighteen in all, are no longer known by the Westemere-EX codename, but by the Xeon E7 product line that they now form. More details after the jump.
Intel's 8-core Nehalem-EX will be shoved aside as the chip maker's fastest server chip, conceding the performance crown to Westmere-EX, a 10-core Xeon processor. One of the talking heads at Intel said you can expect Westmere-EX to land in servers sometime in the first half of 2011, PCWorld reports. What isn't yet known is exactly how fast it will come clocked, only that it will outpace Nehalem-EX with two additional cores and improved latency.
Intel, the world's largest chip maker, and Nvidia can lay claim as the heart and soul of the fastest supercomputer on this or any planet that we know of. That's because the Tianhe-1A supercomputer located at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin, China contains 14,396 Intel Xeon 5600 series processors and over 7,000 Tesla M2050 GPUs.
All that hardware translates into 2.57 petaflops of computing power, making Tianhe-1A the top dog on the 36th edition of the Top500 supercomputer list.
"Our Xeon processor roadmap continues to deliver hugely powerful supercomputers that are helping solve mankind's greatest challenges," said Rajeeb Hazra, general manager of Intel's High Performance Computing organization. "Securing the top position on the Top500 is a source of great pride for Intel, and demonstrates the tremendous leaps in performance and versatility that our processors are delivering across a range of compelling workloads."
Just another notch on Intel's supercomputer belt, really. The Santa Clara chip maker says it's responsible for powering some 80 percent of the systems on the Top500 list, including four of the top six, and more than 90 percent of new systems on the Top500 list.
Apple already unveiled its 12-core Mac Pro machine a month ago, but up until now, you haven't been able to purchase one. Now you can, assuming you have a spare $5,000 bill bouncing around in your pants pocket and aren't put off by the so-called "Apple tax."
That five grand nets you two Intel Xeon "Westmere" 6-core processors clocked at 2.66GHz, with a $1,200 upgrade option bumping you up to two 2.93GHz Westmere parts. The upgraded Mac Pro comes standard with 6GB of DDR3 ECC memory, 1TB hard drive, ATI Radeon HD 5770 videocard, and an 18X DVD burner.
For kicks and giggles, we configured a fully decked out Mac Pro with two of the faster Xeon chips, 32GB of memory, a dedicated RAID card, four 512GB SSDs, a pair of Radeon HD 5770 cards, two optical drives, two 30-inch displays, tons of software, and everything else that was available, bringing the final tally to $24,603.85.
When we think of high end gaming machines, Intel's Xeon processors aren't the first chips that come to mind, but that doesn't mean we'd turn our noses up at a monster setup with not one, but two six-core Xeon 5600 chips. That's exactly what AVADirect delivers in its new custom hybrid gaming system / workstation setup built for both work and play.
If you don't need quite that level of performance, you can drop down to a mere quad-core Xeon chip, but where's the fun in that? As with most boutique system builders, you can choose from a wide variety of components, including up to 48GB of DDR3 memory, up to FOUR freaking graphics, oodles of SSD and HDD options configurable in a RAID array, and just about everything else you can imagine. For a fee, AVADirect will go the extra mile however little or much you wish, including GPU overclocking, sound dampening your setup, slapping on a custom paint job, and spiral wrapping or looming custom colored cables.
All of these hardware options come jammed into an EVGA SR2 motherboard with support for SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0, and the whole thing is shoved into a Lian Li Armorsuit PC-P80 tower chassis, which are about the only two components that can't be swapped.
Intel on Tuesday unveiled its fastest enterprise and high-performance computing chip ever as part of its new Xeon 7500 series. Based on the company's Nehalem architecture, Intel says the launch represents the largest performance leap in Intel Xeon processor history, with an average improvement of 3x across a range of benchmarks. To put it into perspective, the No. 1 chip makers claims data centers can replace 20 single-core servers with a single Xeon 7500 processor series-based system and never skip a beat.
"The Xeon 7500 brings mission critical capabilities to the mainstream by delivering the most significant leap in performance, scalability, and reliability ever seen from Intel," said Kirk Skaugen, vice president of the Intel architecture group and general manager of Intel's data center group. "This combination will help users push to new levels of productivity, and accelerate the industry's migration away from proprietary architectures. We are democratizing high-end computing."
Intel says it managed to set over 20 new benchmarking world records, and it's not hard to see why. The 7500 series supports up to eight integrated cores and 16 threads, and can scale up to 32 cores and 64 threads per 4-chip platform, or 64 cores and 128 threads per 8-chip platform.
There are eight chips in the new series, culminating with the Xeon X7560 (2.26GHz, 24MB cache, 130W TDP).
Intel on Tuesday launched its Xeon 5600 processor series, calling it the "most secure data center processor" ever. They're also pretty powerful, having been built on Intel's 32nm Gulftown architecture. Already several enterprise vendors have touted the new chips.
"The performance of the Intel Xeon processor 5600 series is so compelling that it’s absolutely justifiable immediately in terms of ROI, to simply replace Legacy service, a whole rack of servers, or whatever it happens to be with a single platform. We did it ourselves for our own IT workloads and reduced 264 servers to 16 and in the process got high availability and agility as a result," said Simon Crosby, CTO, Data Center & Cloud, Citrix Systems.
The new chips -- which range in power from a 1.86GHz quad-core to a 3.33GHz six-core and 3.46GHz quad-core -- add a couple of new security features, including Intel Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (Intel AES-NI) and Intel Trusted Execution Technology (Intel TXT). The result, says Intel, is faster encryption and decryption performance for more secure transactions and virtualized environments.
According to Intel, a two-socket server using the new low-voltage Xeon L5640 will deliver the same performance as a server using the previous generation's champ, the Xeon X5570.
Otellini also expects that to change in 2010 while Intel does its part in helping push the corporate market. Not only will Intel release its eight-core Nehalem EX Xeon processor for servers with four or more sockets, but the chip maker also plans to replace every chip in its server portfolio with 32nm Westmere parts, and do so within the next 90 days, Otellini said.
"Companies that haven't bought in a while are -- and probably have been for a while -- planning their purchases for this week," John Spooner, an analyst with Technology Business Research, told eWeek. "So they can essentially put 32nm Xeon servers in their budgets now, and plan purchases for the rest of the year."
Spooner went on to say something we've heard several times before, which is that there exists a lot of pent up demand.
Intel has announced a new version of its Nehalem-EX series CPUs for use in supercomputers. The chips are part of the Xeon family and are optimized for use in supercomputers. The new six-core chips will run at higher clock speed than the current eight-core versions. A single computer will be capable of running 256 of the new CPUs. The new Nehalem-EX chips should be available next year.
Intel also made it known that they were partnering with NEC to develop new supercomputing technologies. In a joint statement, the two tech giants said they would, “push the boundaries of supercomputing performance.” Initially, the two companies will focus on boosting memory speed and scalability.
NEC plans to use advances gleaned from their work with Intel in future supercomputers that utilize Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), an extension of the x86 architecture. A vector processor design is capable of processing multiple operations simultaneously. Current Xeon chips have strong scalar processing, meaning they run operations one at a time. AVX will also be used in Intel’s Sandy Bridge microarchitecture expected in 2011.
Any large technology company relies on their server infrastructure to serve their customers. The sort of power that runs Google or Facebook doesn’t come cheap. It's not so much the cost of the hardware, it’s the massive cost of powering that infrastructure that eats into the bank account. Two start-ups aim to change the server game with some new, low-power alternatives to conventional servers.
SeaMicro, from Santa Clara, is putting together servers based on the low power Atom chip seen most often in Netbooks. Those in the know have indicated that SeaMicro will be able to pack 80 Atom chips in a very small chassis. These Atom servers would offer massive reductions in energy costs, but still provide adequate processing power to serve up data. After all, how much power does it really take to push out some Google results?
In Austin, Texas, there’s an even more ambitious server project afoot. Smooth-Stone is working to integrate the ARM chips you’ve seen in smartphones, like the iPhone, into a new server architecture. Smooth-Stone CEO, Barry Evans, accumulated a great body of knowledge working for Intel’s mobile products group. This seems to jive nicely with the company’s apparent goals. Details on this one are scarce, but if the performance is sufficient, the energy savings could be staggering. Could it be that the era of companies running rack after rack of Xeon-based web servers is coming to a close?