Intel Xeon 5500 Focuses on Power Savings

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Patrick Gelsinger, Intel senior vice president, holds up a wafer containing the new Intel Xeon 5500 series processors.

Intel’s news Xeon 5500 processor (Nehalem EP) was launched yesterday, and touted as a historic leap forward in power and energy efficiency. Each processor features four cores and automated energy efficiency enhancements, providing users with greater control of their energy expenditures. Intel says the Xeon 5500 features a processor idle power level of only 10 watts, enabling a 50 percent reduction in system idle power compared to the previous generation. New integrated power gates allow idle cores to power down independently.

The Intel Xeon processor 5500 series also offers up to 15 automated operating states, allowing significant improvements in chip power management by adjusting system power consumption based on real-time throughput. Intel says these features can allow customers who replace older Intel Xeon servers with the 5500 series to recoup their costs in as little as 8 months.

Here’s our roundup of analysis and commentary about the Xeon 500 launch:

  • Why You Should Care About Intel’s New Server Chip: A high-level overview from GigaOm, offering three areas where Nehalem changes the game.
  • Intel Showcases ‘Transformational’ Nehalem: The Register notes the energy advances, but also the fact that Intel has been slow to focus on low-power chips. “The Nehalem EP chip is exactly the high-volume, high-performance, energy-efficient chip that should have been launched years ago, not today,” writes Timothy Morgan.
  • At VentureBeat, Dean Takahashi notes that the Xeon 5500 is the latest round in the processor wars between Intel and AMD, which has its Istanbul chips with six cores coming later this year, and plans to launch a 12-core server chip in 2010. 

  • Rebooting the Data Center: “The high performance provided by the Nehalem microprocessor architecture makes the chip more competitive with RISC based microprocessors such as Sun Microsystems SPARC and IBM’s POWER microprocessors,” writes Tom Foremski. “This represents a massive market opportunity.”
  • EE Times looked at the impact of the Xeon 5500 on the shift to 10 Gigabit Ethernet networking, noting that Intel used the launch to provide a first look at a new 10Gbit Ethernet controller supporting some FCoE functions in software.
  • TG Daily reminded readers that the Nehalem processors are already on the market. “Apple jumped the gun on March 3 by announcing a new Mac Pro that integrates the chip,” the site notes. “Intel was not exactly happy that Apple did not care about any official launch dates, but still made every effort today to ‘launch’ the processor.” 
  • The list of server vendors rolling out new products featuring the Xeon 5500 included HP, IBM, Dell and Rackable.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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