A first look at Intel's quad-core Xeon processors


Clovertown comes to, er, nevermind
— 12:00 AM on November 14, 2006

INTEL CHOSE TO DEBUT its first quad-core processor on the desktop with the Core 2 Extreme QX6700, but quad-core's most immediate potential lies with Xeon processors built for servers and workstations. There is no shortage of multithreaded code in the enterprise world, and plenty of applications—running either natively or on virtual machines—are ready to take advantage of additional processor cores. More is at stake in the enterprise world, too. There, higher performance does more than smooth out in-game frame rates and lower media encoding times; it can increase productivity, yield a competitive advantage, or reduce the time it takes to answer important scientific questions.

As it has on the desktop, power consumption has also become an increasingly important factor for servers and workstations. In the enterprise world, the cost of a processor is more than the price tag of an individual chip; it also takes into consideration the air conditioning needed to cool it, the electricity consumed by running it, and the real estate cost associated with the rack where it will live.

The Core microarchitecture is particularly power-efficient, and Intel's manufacturing prowess has quickly spun it into a quad-core design for the Xeon 5300 series. These new Xeon chips fit into the same power envelope as their dual-core predecessors, but pack twice the processor cores. Read on to see what makes the Xeon 5300 series tick and how new chipsets and motherboards will take advantage of its potential.

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