Intel Corp. on Monday officially released its first processors based on the Core 2 micro-architecture, which the company hopes will bring the performance crown back to the largest chipmaker. The new processors also consume much less power compared to the rivals: only up to 80W for the top model.
New Xeon Finally Launched
“Simply put, the Core micro-architecture is a technical marvel that is driving a new era of power efficiency without compromising on what can only be described as eye-popping dual-core 64-bit performance,” said Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s digital enterprise group.
Intel Xeon 5100-series processors previously code-named Woodcrest are powered by the new micro-architecture, which sports shorter pipeline and high performance per clock ratio. The new processors feature 14-stages pipeline (compared to 31 or more stages found in previous Intel Xeon), 4-issue out-of-order execution engine (Intel Wide Dynamic Execution), improved performance of the floating-point unit (FPU) as well as unified level two cache that allows one of two processing cores to use the entire on-die memory reservoir if necessary while the other is idle.
The initial Xeon 5100 lineup consists of models 5110, 5120, 5130, 5140, 5150 and 5160 that will operate at 1.60GHz, 1.866GHz, 2.00GHz, 2.33GHz, 2.67GHz and 3.00GHz, respectively. The chips will feature 4MB unified L2 cache, 1066MHz (for models 5110 and 5120 only) or 1333MHz PSB and will have thermal design power (TDP) of 65W, except the model 5160, which has TDP of 80W. Additionally, Intel plans model 5148, which will have specs totally similar to 5140, but will consume only about 40W.
Intel stressed that Woodcrest includes “extreme power management techniques” which drives “substantially lower actual or measured at the wall power than the maximum or TDP power”, which implies that the actual power consumption is much lower than TDP in general cases.
Drop In Compatible with Existing Infrastructure
The new Xeon processors are drop-in compatible with the Bensley and Glidewell platforms for servers and workstations respectively. The new platforms support such technologies as Intel’s Hyper-Threading, virtualization, active management and I/O acceleration technologies. Drop-in compatibility means that servers and workstations featuring the new Xeon 5100-series processors will have shorter time-to-market. The aforementioned platforms had been developed to support Intel Xeon 5000-series processors code-named Dempsey.
The Bensley platform is based on Intel 5000P (Blackford) and Intel 5000V (Blackford VS) chipsets that support dual-core processors, PC2-4300 FB-DIMM memory (up to 64GB by 5000P and up to 16GB by 5000V), Both core-logic sets support processors with 1066MHz and 1333MHz processor system bus. The Glidewell platform features the Intel 5000X (Greencreek) chipset, which, in addition to the capabilities mentioned above, brings support for PCI Express x16 bus required for graphics cards.
Ramp to Be Quick
Usually Intel names partners who begin shipments of the chips to end-users as part of their systems. This time Intel only indicated that “more than 200” server and workstation models are planned from “more than 150” manufacturers “with initial orders starting today”. It is unclear whether Intel has already started volume revenue shipments of the Woodcrest.
Intel expects the new server family to be the fastest-ramping product in the company’s history, and has set pricing for the Intel Xeon processor 5100 family from $209 to $851 in 1000-unit quantities, depending on features. Intel will also provide extended lifecycle support of 5 to 7 years for its communications, storage and embedded customers.
According to earlier information, Intel will ramp up Woodcrest chips very rapidly. Apparently, its yet-to-be-introduced code-named Dempsey processors, which is based on the NetBurst micro-architecture, will acquire only a little more than 10% of Intel Xeon DP platform sales in Q2 2006. Already in Q3 2006 the Bensley platform that supports Dempsey and Woodcrest will acquire over 60% of shipments as the code-named Woodcrest chips will be featured in little less than 50% of DP server platforms supplied by Intel (which means that Dempsey chips will be used in 10-15% of Xeon DP-based servers only). In Q4 2006 shipments of Intel dual-processor will consist of slightly less than 70% of Woodcrest chips and a little more than 30% of NetBurst-based processors. In Q1 2007 70% of the Intel Xeon DP market will belong to the Woodcrest, 10% will be owned by quad-core Clovertown and 20% will go to the NetBurst micro-architecture-based chips.
Intel has lost significant portion of server market share to AMD Opteron, which outperformed the company’s previous-generation server processors powered by NetBurst micro-architecture while consuming less energy. To win the share back from AMD, Intel will need to ramp up the volumes of the Woodcrest really quick. However, the company will still be behind the smaller rival when it comes to lucrative four-processor servers, as the Woodcrest chips was designed for the two-way systems.