Unveiling the chips at an event in San Francisco, Intel officials were joined onstage by a number of OEMs rolling out new systems powered by the chips. A Microsoft Corp. official also spoke, trumpeting the benefits of 64-bit computing for both hardware and operating systems.
Along with the chips, Intel Corp., of Santa Clara, Calif., also unveiled the E8500 chip set—formerly code-named Twin Castle—which offers a 677MHz dual-independent front-side bus and 10.6GBs of system bandwidth, a three-fold improvement over the current generation, according to Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intels Digital Enterprise Group.
The new Xeon MPs—for servers with four or more chips—complete Intels transition to 64-bit computing in its server chips, Gelsinger said. Last year, Intel brought the capability to its Xeon DP chips, for systems with one or two processors.
Intel officials say the Xeons—which together with the new chip set create the "Truland" platform—complement the 64-bit Itanium processors, which are for high-end servers and target the RISC environment. For several years, Intel promoted Itanium as the dominant 64-bit chip for Intel servers.
However, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. gained traction with its AMD64 architecture, in both its Opteron server processors and Athlon 64 desktop chips, which enabled 32- and 64-bit computing in the x86 space.
Intel has since brought the same capability to its Xeons, as well as to its Pentium 4 desktop processors in February.
In Tuesdays announcement, Intel unveiled three performance Xeon MPs, ranging in frequency from 2.83GHz to 3.33GHz and 4MB to 8MB of Level 3 cache. Two "value" processors offer 3.16GHz and 3.66GHz speeds and 1MB of Level 2 cache.
The 64-bit capabilities are part of a growing collection of technologies Intel is pushing to improve performance in its processors beyond simply cranking up the chip frequency. Others include dual-core processing, which will begin to roll out later this year, and chip-level virtualization, coming in 2006.
Intel also is addressing the issue of power consumption with its Demand Based Switching and Enhance SpeedStep features, which can throttle down the processor speed depending on workload demands.
Pricing ranges from $722 to $3,692 per 1,000 units shipped.
Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. both have unveiled new four-way systems powered by the new chips. HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., unveiled the ProLiant DL580 G3 and ML570 G3, which offer not only the new chip but also enhanced management capabilities, including RAID 6 storage, integrated Lights Out management and RAID memory.
Brad Anderson, senior vice president and general manager of HPs Industry Standard Servers, said the new systems satisfy customer demand for greater price/performance and manageability.
Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, last week rolled out the PowerEdge 6800 and 6850, which also take advantage of the new Xeon MPs. Like HP, Dell used the announcement to unveil enhanced management capabilities through its OpenManage 4.3 software, including greater remote-management features and integration with Microsofts System Management Server.
IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., last month unveiled its new X3 "Hurricane" chip set, which will run with the Xeon chips in the companys xSeries systems, as well as the x366 server, which can scale from four to 32 processors.
Susan Whitney, general manager of IBMs eServer xSeries, said the combination of Intels chip and IBMs chip set will mean a 40 percent performance improvement over current four-way xSeries servers.
The technology enables greater penetration of industry-standard technology into the data center, Whitney said. "Were taking mainframe capabilities and bringing them into this space," she said.
At the event, Gelsinger also announced the Intel Software Network, which offers everything from tools to training to make it easier for software developers to create products for the Intel platform. This is important as Intel adds such features as virtualization and greater security to the processors, he said.