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Intel Corp., the world’s No. 1 maker of x86 central processing units, late on Monday officially unveiled a family of its microprocessors that feature four processing engines. About one and a half year after the company first introduced its dual-core microprocessors, the firm goes on with quad-core chips in a bid to demonstrate excellence of its technologies and further stimulate software makers to create programs that take advantage of many cores.

“Today’s announcement ushers in another new era in computing. The capabilities of quad-core microprocessors will bring new possibilities for science, entertainment, and business. I’m incredibly proud of what Intel’s employees have achieved with these new products,” said Paul Otellini, president and chief executive of Intel.

On Monday Intel introduced four Intel Xeon 5300-series processors with clock-speeds ranging from 1.60GHz to 2.66GHz, 8MB of level two cache (4MB of unified L2 cache per two cores), processor system bus (PSB) speeds of 1066MHz or 1333MHz frequencies and power consumption of 80W or 120W. The new chips are priced from $455 to $1172 in 1000-unit quantities and will be available in servers from leading manufacturers shortly.

Additionally, Intel officially released its new Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor for desktops that also contains four processing cores, operates at 2.66GHz, has 1066MHz PSB and carries 8MB cache. The new microprocessor has similar price tag compared to other “Extreme”-series processors: $999 in 1000-unit quantities.

Intel also announced that in the first quarter of 2007 it would launch two more quad-core Xeon processors: a low voltage version for ultra-dense deployments with thermal design power (TDP) of only 50W and a processor designed for single socket workstations and servers. Besides, the company confirmed plans to offer a mainstream quad-core processor for desktops starting in the first quarter of next year under the brand name Intel Core 2 Quad processor.

As previously reported, Intel’s processors code-named Kentsfield (Core 2 Extreme) and Clovertown (Intel Xeon 5300-series) feature two Conroe or Woodcrest chips on the same piece of substrate, meaning that the chips (that contain two processing cores) have to communicate using PSB. While putting two pieces of silicon onto a substrate is relatively easy from manufacturing point of view, Intel’s arch-rival Advanced Micro Devices, who is behind Intel with its quad-core processors by several quarters, claims that such way of building multi-core central processing units is not efficient from performance point of view. AMD’s “native” quad-core chips are expected to emerge in mid-2007 and likely to be followed by Intel’s second-generation “native” quad-core chips in several weeks or months.

Specifications and pricing of the new Intel Xeon 5300-series chips are as follows:

  • Intel Xeon processor X5355: four processing cores, 2.66GHz clock-speed, 1333MHz QPB, 8MB L2 cache, 120W TDP, $1172.
  • Intel Xeon processor E5345: four processing cores, 2.33GHz clock-speed, 1333MHz QPB, 8MB L2 cache, 80W TDP, $851.
  • Intel Xeon processor E5335: four processing cores, 2.00GHz clock-speed, 1333MHz QPB, 8MB L2 cache, 80W TDP, to be available in Q1 2007.
  • Intel Xeon processor E5320: four processing cores, 1.86GHz clock-speed, 1066MHz QPB, 8MB L2 cache, 80W TDP, $690.
  • Intel Xeon processor E5310: four processing cores, 1.60GHz clock-speed, 1066MHz QPB, 8MB L2 cache, 80W TDP, $455.


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