Intel 4-Way Xeon Unveiling Sparks Wave Of Server Releases, Updates

Dell, Unisys, IBM and Hewlett-Packard are among companies taking advantage of the new processors, touted to bring as much as 70% performance improvements to systems, and the release also sparks

March 30, 2005

4 Min Read
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Intel Corp. unveiled a new line of 64-bit Xeon MP processors at a Tuesday press conference aimed primarily at the midrange 4-way x86 server market, a move the company claims will pave the way toward increasing acceptance of multi-core technology and create a more affordable server market in general.

The announcement also sparked a wave of new servers or server upgrade announcements from several market leaders, including IBM, Unisys, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard, and a Microsoft official said that final details of a long-expected 64-bit version of Windows Server 2003 will be forthcoming within a couple of weeks.

The new Xeons, which comprise a platform the company is dubbing "Truland," cover a wide spectrum of price and performance zones, ranging from a 3.33 GHz offering with 8 MB L3 cache at just under $3,700 per processor to a 3.16 GHz processor with 1 MB L2 cache priced at $722, based on 1,000-unit or greater quantities. Intel also introduced a new chipset, the E8500, that Intel senior vice president Pat Gelsinger said should ready customers for the move to dual-core processor technology and midrange-based virtualization.

"This is really the completion of our move to the 64-bit platform," Gelsinger said. "It enables us to base our line on an industry-standard solution with multiprocessor platforms."

Between the two endpoint processors, Intel is also offering a 3.00 GHz with 8 MB L3 cache for $1,980; a 2.83 GHz with 4 MB L3 cache at $1,177; and a 3.66 GHz with 1 MB L2 cache for $963.Server manufacturers, meanwhile, are wasting no time partnering with Intel on the new offerings. Dell introduced two new PowerEdge models, the 6800 and 6850 -- respectively a tower and rack-based model -- that the company says will let customers choose from among to the five new Xeons to enhance clock speed, enable a larger cache or blend the two capabilities. The 6800 is priced at $3,899, while the 6850 will run $4,999.

"For the fist time, our customers can move their applications to a 4-way platform at a lower-end cost," said Paul Gottsegen, Dell's vice president of worldwide marketing for the company's enterprise product group.

Similarly, Hewlett-Packard will base two new ProLiant models on the new Xeon line -- the rack-mountable DL580 and a tower model, the ML570, priced respectively starting at $6,270 and $5,270. "The key to success in the 4-way space is providing platform capability," said Brad Anderson, HP's senior vice president for industry standard servers. "This line of processors lets us innovate quite broadly and meet customer needs that have been expressed to us."

Unisys will offer the 64-bit Xeons on its existing ES7000 midrange platform, a move that Mark Feverston, Unisys vice president of enterprise server marketing, said suited a customer base that's increasingly trending away from Unix running on RISC-based platforms.

"For CIOs, their existing RISC-based Unix platforms become a real target for replacement with this alternative," Feverston said. "The attraction to CIOs is to continue to reduce their server costs, and they'll be getting increased performance along with that."IBM is already adapting the new Xeons to its X3 server architecture, announced late last month. The company is employing the 64-bit Xeons in its eServer xSeries 366, the first in a planned IBM family of dual-core-capable Intel-based server offerings, and IBM's Susan Whitney said the price/performance afforded by the 4-way Xeons should draw intense customer interest.

"We've benchmarked the x366 at performance that's 40 percent better than anything else on the market, and at 30 percent less price. That's a winning proposition for our customers," said Whitney, general manager of IBM's eServer iSeries division. "And on our platform, you can scale to a 32-way system." IBM is offering the x366 at $6,999.

As for software, Andy Lees, corporate vice president for the server and tools business at Microsoft, said that details of the 64-bit Windows Server 2003 will be forthcoming at the Windows Hardware Engineering conference (WinHEC) to be held in late April in Seattle. Lees also confirmed that Microsoft will base its Windows Server license for multicore systems on the number of processors in a system, not the number of cores.

Users of 64-bit systems based on the new Xeons should see substantial performance improvements under Windows Server 2003, Lees said; for instance, Active Directory calls at 64-bit should double their throughput rate, while Terminal Services at 64-bit permitted 170 percent more users in recent testing.

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