Thursday Sep 15th 2011
Intel executives at IDF said they have begun shipping eight-core Xeon E5 chips based on the "Sandy Bridge" architecture, and that servers with the technology will begin appearing early next year.
SAN FRANCISCO-Intel executives are
readying new Xeon E5 "Sandy Bridge" server chips while also
reiterating their intention to continue developing the Itanium platform.
Kirk Skaugen, vice president and
general manager of Intel's Data Center Group, said during a briefing with
journalists and analysts at the Intel Developer Forum here that Intel has begun
revenue production of the Xeon E5 chip, which will hold up to eight cores and
run up to 16 threads per second.
The chip will offer more performance
than the current Xeon 5600 "Westmere" processors, introduced last
year, including doubling the floating point capabilities and integrating the
PCI-Express bus onto the processing, which will boost performance and improve
energy efficiency, Skaugen said.
The Xeon E5 "is the most
phenomenal chip we've delivered to the server market," he said.
The new chip, aimed at midrange servers
with two and four sockets that work in cloud and high-performance computing
(HPC) environments, will join the Sandy Bridge-based Xeon E3 for low-end
systems and the current higher-end Westmere-based Xeon E7 chips, which offer up to
10 cores and were released in April.
Intel is seeing strong adoption from
OEMs for the Xeon E5, with more than 400 system design wins, which is more than
twice the number there was for the Xeon 5500 "Nehalem" processors,
released in 2009. Skaugen said the rapid adoption of cloud computing and the
growth of HPC are driving interest in the new Xeons.
He predicted that within 60 days of
launching the chip, 90 percent of Intel's cloud computing customers will be making
plans to transition to the Xeon E5. Servers running the Xeon E5 will begin
hitting the market early in 2012, said Skaugen, who expects to sell the chip in
"extremely high volumes."
During a briefing Sept. 14 at IDF, John
Hengeveld, director of HPC strategies at Intel, said the Xeon E5 will offer
significant improvements over current products.
"It's the foundation of the
next-generation data center," Hengeveld said.
The news of the shipping of the Xeon E5
chips comes a week after rival Advanced Micro Devices announced that it had
begun shipping the first of its Opteron server processors based on the company's new "Bulldozer" architecture.
AMD officials said they began shipping the 16-core Opteron 6200 Series "Interlagos"
processors in August and that OEM systems based on the platform will begin
appearing in the fourth quarter.
Like the Xeon E5, AMD's Interlagos
processors also are targeting cloud environments and virtualized workloads. In
an interview with eWEEK at a hotel
near the IDF conference, John Taylor, director of client product and software
marketing at AMD, said while the company is shipping Interlagos now, the
official launch will come later this year. An announcement on the upcoming
Bulldozer-based "Valencia" Opteron chips, which will hold six to
eight cores and will be aimed at one- to two-socket servers, also is in the
AMD's efforts around Opteron are
designed to dovetail with enterprise trends toward cloud and HPC, and the shift
in corporations' focus away from capital costs and onto operational costs.
Intel's Skaugen said that even as the
chip vendor grows its Xeon offerings, it will continue developing its Itanium
platform. The company is still on target to release the next generation of the
chip-dubbed "Poulson"-next year, which will double the performance of
the current Itanium processor. Two years after Poulson will come "Kittson,"
which will double the performance of Poulson.
He also noted the continuing efforts to
enable Itanium and Xeon-though based on different microarchitectures-to share
features, including 25 common reliability, availability and serviceability
(RAS) capabilities. The result is two strong high-end server platforms, giving
enterprises a wide number of options when looking at their workloads.
"It's really about operating
system choice," Skaugen said.
Intel's plans for Itanium became the
subject of debate earlier this year when Oracle officials announced Oracle would
no longer develop its software for the Itanium platform,
claiming Intel would soon be ending development of the technology. Intel
executives, including President and CEO Paul Otellini, quickly refuted the
claim, saying the chip maker had a roadmap that will carry development through
the end of the decade.
Officials with Hewlett-Packard-by far
the largest consumer of Itanium processors-called Oracle's decision a cynical
move in hopes of boosting the flagging SPARC hardware portfolio it inherited
through its $7.6 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Oracle became the
third major software vendor to end support of Itanium, joining Microsoft and