Intel makes mainstream servers mission critical

We’ve seen the last of Intel’s Xeon – or at least, we’ve seen the last of it released, as the firm launched its Nehalem based Xeon 7500 processor series on Tuesday. 

Claiming the “largest performance leap” in Xeon history, Intel reckoned the new series bumped up a 3x improvement across a range of benchmarks, which apparently means data centres can now feel free to replace 20 single core servers with just one Xeon 7500 processor based system. 

The new arrival is apparently something of a chip-send in terms of energy efficiency, computing speed and a whole plethora of other features, according to Intel, which longwindedly blew its own trumpet for an hour at the launch event. 

“It is not often that you launch a product so revolutionary you think it will change the market….But the Xeon 7500 will democratise the high-end, while delivering mission critical computing to the mainstream,” gushed Intel’s Kirk Skaugen, vice president of Intel’s architecture group and general manager of its data centre group.

“Moore’s Law enables us to deliver this…We have been in the server market for 25 years, have successfully moved the Web from Sparc-based architecture to Intel-based computing,” he continued. 

“The Xeon 7500 offers 20 new reliability features, many found for the first time in X86 architecture,” said Skaugen, giving the example of a feature called machine check architecture recovery (MCA recovery), which has been in mainframes, RISC and Itanium – and is now also in the Xeon 7500. 

“In a normal machine, a multi-bit memory error caused by cosmic or alpha rays is enough to halt the system….But MCA recovery notifies the OS of a multi-bit error and allows it to keep going,” Skaugen assured us. 

Indeed, with eight core, 16-threaded  performance, Intel certainly believes it is well placed to play an even bigger role than it already currently holds.

“There is going to be an explosion in data growth. Intel is committed to getting one billion people connected to the Internet,” Skaugen proclaimed.

“We want today’s supercomputer to be under every desk in the very near future. By 2013 there will be a million CPUs in just 100 of the top supercomputers….We believe there is a category for higher core count and broader memory capacity.” 

Skaugen went on to praise the Xeon 7500’s advances in scalability, which allow new designs to range from two-socket platforms up to 256 chips per system, as well as the purported 4x increase in memory capacity (up to 1 Terabyte in 4-processor configurations) and 8x increase in memory bandwidth.  

“At the end of the day, mission critical computing is about reliability and zero down time,” he concluded.