Intel's Six-Core Dunnington Chip on the Way

The latest processor for Intel for the multisocket server space should land in the second half of this year.

Intel is preparing a new six-core processor for high-end systems.

During a conference call to discuss the 2008 Developer Forum in Shanghai, China, Pat Gelsinger, Intel's senior vice president of the Digital Enterprise Group, said that the new chip, code-named Dunnington, will be available in multisocket systems starting in the second half of this year.

The new chip, which is part of Intel's Penryn line of 45-nanometer processors, is compatible with the company's 7300 chip set for multisocket servers. That platform, along with new Xeon processors, debuted in September to compete against Advanced Micro Devices' quad-core Opteron processor.

While the multisocket, or multiprocessor, server space is much smaller than the standard one- and two-socket market, the margins on these systems are much greater, which makes it an attractive area for both Intel and AMD and one in which the two companies fight each other vigorously.

While Intel is preparing Dunnington, AMD is preparing to move to a 45-nanometer process later this year, which should help it stay competitive within the multisocket system market.

When Dunnington does come to the market, it will be the first chip with Intel Architecture to have six cores, which appears to be a stepping stone to the company offering eight-core microprocessors in 2009, when Intel releases its Nehalem processors.

Read more here about Intel's Nehalem chip.

With six processing cores and 16MB of Level 3 cache, the new processor should give customers a boost in performance, although Gelsinger did not offer some essential details, such as clock speed.

Intel did note that Dunnington will offer new technology called FlexMigration, which will make it easier for virtual machines to migrate from systems that use older 65-nanometer processors to ones that user the newer 45-nanometer chips. This type of technology is important as companies such as VMware offer tools such as Vmotion, which allows for the live migration of running applications in virtual environments.

The Dunnington processor should round out Intel's line of 45-nanometer processors before the Santa Clara, Calif., company begins offering its Nehalem family of chips in late 2008. After that, the company will switch to a 32-nanometer manufacturing process-Westmere-in 2009 and then a new microarchitecture-Sandybridge-in 2010.