Eight-core Xeon 7500 family arrives on the scene

Hot on the heels of AMD's 12-core Opteron launch, Intel has countered with the formal release of its Nehalem-EX processor, now officially known as the Xeon 7500 series.

As we've explained in some of our previous coverage, Nehalem-EX has a rather impressive feature set: a native eight-core design (with 16 threads, thanks to Hyper-Threading), Turbo Boost, 24MB of shared L3 cache, four QuickPath Interface links, four DDR3 memory channels, and support for up to 16 memory modules per socket—even more than the 12 modules supported by the latest Opterons.

Intel has also beefed up these CPUs with some reliability features straight out of the Itanium playbook. Those include Machine Check Architecture Recovery, which Intel describes as "a feature that allows the silicon to work with the operating system and virtual machine manager to recover from otherwise fatal system errors."

The Nehalem-EX processor die. Source: Intel.

Thanks to QuickPath, Xeon 7500 systems can be built with two to eight sockets. Intel says it's collaborating with server vendors on "ultra-scale" machines with "16 processors for the enterprise, and up to 256 processors and support for 16 terabytes . . . of memory for high- performance computing 'super nodes' running bandwidth-demanding applications such as financial analysis, numerical weather predictions and genome sequencing." Impressive stuff.

Here's what the Xeon 7500 launch lineup looks like:

Processor Speed L3 cache Sockets TDP Turbo Boost Cores/threads Price
Xeon X7560 2.26 GHz 24 MB 2/4/8 130W Yes 8/16 $3,692
Xeon X7550 2.00 GHz 18 MB 2/4/8 130W Yes 8/16 $2,729
Xeon E7540 2.00 GHz 18 MB 2/4/8 105W Yes 6/12 $1,980
Xeon E7530 1.86 GHz 12 MB 2/4 105W Yes 6/12 $1,391
Xeon E7520 1.86 GHz 18 MB 2/4 95W No 4/8 $856
Xeon L7555 1.86 GHz 24 MB 2/4/8 95W Yes 8/16 $3,157
Xeon L7545 1.86 GHz 18 MB 2/4/8 95W Yes 6/12 $2,087
Xeon X7542 2.66 GHz 18 MB 2/4/8 130W Yes 6/6 $1,980
Xeon X6550 2.00 GHz 18 MB 2 130W Yes 8/16 $2,461
Xeon E6540 2.00 GHz 18 MB 2 105W Yes 6/12 $1,712
Xeon E6510 1.73 GHz 12 MB 2 105W No 4/8 $744

On the performance side of things, these new processors are purportedly three times faster than Xeon 7400 CPUs in "leading enterprise benchmarks." They also have eight times the memory bandwidth and four times the memory capacity. Intel goes so far as to promise the "largest performance leap in [Xeon] history."

You can look forward to Xeon 7500-powered servers from vendors including Bull, Cisco, Cray, Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Inspur, NEC, Oracle, SGI, Supermicro, and Quanta.

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