by Anton Shilov
03/30/2010 | 11:26 PM
Intel Corp. on Tuesday launched its first eight-core chip code-named Beckton designed for multi-processor enterprise class and mission critical servers. Intel hopes that the new chip will make multi-processor servers generally more affordable thanks to common platform the company has developed for it. In addition, thanks to different versions of the chips, the new Xeon processors will address 2P, 4P or even 8P servers.
According to the world’s largest chipmaker, expandable to include from two to 256 chips per server, the new Intel Xeon processors have an average performance three times that of Intel's existing Xeon 7400 series on common, leading enterprise benchmarks, and come equipped with more than 20 new reliability features. This is the first Xeon processor to possess Machine Check Architecture (MCA) Recovery, a feature that allows the silicon to work with the operating system and virtual machine manager to recover from otherwise fatal system errors, a mechanism until now found only in the company's Intel Itanium processor family and RISC processors.
"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. 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,” said Kirk Skaugen, vice president of the Intel architecture group and general manager of Intel's data center group.
The new enterprise Intel Xeon processor is based on code-named Nehalem micro-architecture, features up to 8-cores (up to 16-threads due to HyperThreading support), 24MB of L3 cache, 2MB L2 cache, has 2.3 billion transistors and is made using 45nm process technology. The chip that is known under Beckton code-name has four point-to-point quick path interconnect links to connect to other processors as well as system I/O operating at up to 6.4GT/s. The new-generation Xeon MP processors have four integrated memory controllers, but those controllers do not connect to memory modules directly, but connect to special buffers instead. A brief explanation indicates that the new memory technology is similar to FB-DIMMs with AMB put onto the mainboard. Each new Xeon socket supports up to 16 DIMMs.
The new Intel Xeon chips also feature capability to disable certain cores or cache domains to improve manufacturing yields. The “cache and core recovery” technology allows Intel to disable caches or cores independently in case they are defective or because of market demands, as a result, Intel rolls out eight Xeon 7500-series processors for high-end servers and three Xeon 6500-series chips for mainstream machines, all of the CPUs are essentially based on the same silicon. The processors require new platforms with LGA-1567 sockets.
The new Xeon “Nehalem-EX” platform differs from the previously available Intel-based machines. Instead of processor system bus (PSB), the new Intel Xeon MP chips use high-bandwidth QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) links which enables much greater performance scalability in multi-processor environments thanks to abilities of central processing units (CPUs) to better communicate with each other. With QPI, cost-effective and highly scalable eight-processor servers that do not require specialized third-party node controller chips to "glue" the system together can be built. Intel is also working with system vendors to deliver "ultra-scale" systems with 16 processors for the enterprise, and up to 256 processors and support for 16TB of memory for high- performance computing "super nodes" running bandwidth-demanding applications such as financial analysis, numerical weather predictions and genome sequencing.
The modular scaling of the Xeon 7500 processor works with the Intel 7500 chipset and Intel 7500 scalable memory duffers to enable unique OEM system designs and brings a wide range of socket, memory and I/O, form factor, and reliability feature sets never before available to the mainstream server market.
Enterprise software vendors expected to support the high-end features of Intel Xeon processor 7500-based platforms, include Citrix, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat, SAP AG and VMware.
With more than double the amount of designs versus the previous generation Intel Xeon processor 7400 series, system manufacturers were expected to announce systems based on the Intel Xeon processor 7500/6500 processor starting today. These manufacturers include Bull, Cisco, Cray, Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Inspur, NEC, Oracle, SGI, Supermicro and Quanta.