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Intel, the world’s largest maker of microprocessors, who used to downplay the importance of 64-bit computing within x86 architecture, on Monday rolled-out its new series of Xeon microprocessors for servers of workstation that sport x86-64 technology originally introduced by the arch-rival AMD. But Intel’s server and workstation platforms not only bring new processors, but broaden usage models of such computers.

Intel Xeon “Nocona” – The Heart of Intel’s New Platforms

The brain and main engine of all Intel’s new 2-way platforms is the Xeon processors based on the core code-named Nocona. Being the superset of the Prescott core that powers all conventional Pentium 4 processors, Nocona brings something that the desktop chips lack – the 64-bit capability with remaining compatibility with all 32-bit applications.

Besides x64-64 technology, which Intel calls Extended Memory 64 Technology, the new Xeon processors feature multitude of performance-enhancing tweaks that are likely to be praised by customers.

Being made using 90nm manufacturing technology, the new Xeon processors gain some additional scalability for future growth in speed. However, clock-speed is not the only improvement of Nocona. The Xeon processors made using 90nm fabrication process feature 16KB L1 cache, 1MB L2 cache and 12K uOps Trace Cache, substantial improvements over the typical 130nm Xeon chips. In addition, the new processors feature more advanced branch-prediction mechanisms, SSE3 technology and revamped Hyper-Threading capability.

Furthermore, the Xeon “Nocona” processors integrate Demand Based Switching (DBS) with Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology to dynamically adjust power and lower the processor's power demand.

All the fresh Xeon processors work using 800MHz processor system bus, a substantial speed improvement over older-generation 400MHz and 533MHz PSB.

New Chipsets Brings Broader Usage Models

The new Xeon processors will be supported by E7525, E7520 and E7320 chipsets. The first one is intended for workstations and is announced today, while the remaining two are designed for servers and will be launched in the third quarter.

The E7525 enabled dual-channel DDR2 SDRAM memory at 400MHz along with PCI Express x16 graphics port. However, according to certain sources, the new E7525 may enable two PCI Express x16 graphics port, making dual-graphics cards configurations possible.

The E7520 aka Lindenhurst core-logic will support Intel Xeon processors with 800MHz Quad Pumped Bus, dual-channel PC2700 DDR and PC2-3200 DDR2 SDRAM memory with ECC support. Besides, the E7520 will bring PCI Express x8 as well as PCI Express x4 into server solutions in addition to direct connect LAN and storage components. The E7320 is a cut-down version of E7520.

Pricing and Availability

Mainboard and system manufacturers worldwide are expected to offer workstation platforms based on the latest Intel Xeon processor, including Asus, Compusys, Dell, IBM, HP, Egenera, Foxconn, FSC, Fujitsu, Gigabyte, HCL, Iwill, Kraftway, Maxdata, MPC, NEC, Optimus and Tyan.

A broad family of Intel Xeon processors enables improved performance across multiple price points. The new Intel Xeon processors are available now at speeds ranging from 2.80 to 3.60GHz. The 3.60GHz processor is available in limited quantities as production ramps through the third quarter. Intel’s list prices in quantities of 1000 are: 3.60GHz - $851; 3.40GHz - $690; 3.20GHz - $455; 3.00GHz - $316; 2.80GHz - $209. The price of the E7525 chipset, also available today, is $100 based on 1000 units.

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