Intel Delivers Low-Power Blade Server Chip

Intel aims to appeal to the most energy-conscious customers with new Xeon LV blade server chip, which offers dual cores, but only uses about 30 watts of power.

Intel has taken the wraps off of a new, low-power, dual-core Xeon chip for blade servers, the first of three new server chips it will roll out in coming weeks.

The chip maker on March 12 said it had begun shipping its Xeon LV chip. The Xeon LV is Intels first blade server-oriented processor to offer dual-cores. But it also promises to be stingy on power, meeting the needs of the most energy-conscious customers.

The company derived it from its Core processor family, sometimes referred to by the code-name Yonah, which includes single-core Core Solo and dual-core Core Duo notebook processors.

Like Core chips, the Xeon LV will use around 30 watts of power—it is rated at 31 watts TDP, which means it will typically use up to that much energy–allowing it to offer much greater performance for each unit of energy it consumes, a measure chip makers have taken to referring to as performance-per-watt.

Power consumption was the central focus of Intels spring Developer Forum, which took place in San Francisco on March 7-9.

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There, Intel detailed a new processor architecture, designed to use less power but deliver more performance and pledged to offer a series of chips based on it.

One, its dual-processor Xeon chip, will use 80 watts of power, where current chips use 120 watts or more. Intel promised it would offer a 35 percent reduction in power consumption, and an 80 percent increase in performance versus a forthcoming dual-core Xeon DP chip, Dempsey, which will arrive in servers in May or June.

Woodcrest, third of the three chips, will follow hard on the heels of Dempsey, in the third quarter, Intel said last week.

Xeon LV, for its part, will pack two to four times greater performance-per-watt than its predecessor, a 55 watt version of the single-core "Irwindale" Xeon chip, Intel said in a statement.

The Xeon LV, showing its roots as a notebook chip, will only offer 32 bit addressing. The chip maker has plans to extend notebook chips to 64 bits with its new architecture. But it has not done so yet.

IBM and Rackable Systems have been among the first to announce plans to adopt the new Xeon LV chip, which had been known by the code-named Sossaman.

IBM, for its part, has said it will add the LV chip to its BladeCenter Ultra Low Power HS20 blade. The blade will hit the market in April, the company has said.

Intel also intends to offer the new Xeon LV in a blade of its own, which PC makers can use to build products on. The blade, dubbed Intel Server Compute Blade SBXD62, will come out in April and start at $945 per unit. That price does not include a processor, heat sink, memory or hard drive.

The chip maker will follow up, later this year, with a 40 watt dual-core blade server chip as part of its Woodcrest family chip, company executives indicated last week. That chip would add greater performance than the current Xeon LV, in addition to 64 bit support.

The Xeon processor LV will come in 1.66GHz and 2.0GHz speeds and list for $209 and $423, respectively, Intel said.

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