Intel Ships Xeon E5 Server Chips for Cloud, HPC Environments

Intel executives at IDF said they have begun shipping eight-core Xeon E5 chips based on the "Sandy Bridge" architecture, and that servers with the technology will begin appearing early next year.

SAN FRANCISCO-Intel executives are readying new Xeon E5 "Sandy Bridge" server chips while also reiterating their intention to continue developing the Itanium platform.

Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center Group, said during a briefing with journalists and analysts at the Intel Developer Forum here that Intel has begun revenue production of the Xeon E5 chip, which will hold up to eight cores and run up to 16 threads per second.

The chip will offer more performance than the current Xeon 5600 "Westmere" processors, introduced last year, including doubling the floating point capabilities and integrating the PCI-Express bus onto the processing, which will boost performance and improve energy efficiency, Skaugen said.

The Xeon E5 "is the most phenomenal chip we've delivered to the server market," he said.

The new chip, aimed at midrange servers with two and four sockets that work in cloud and high-performance computing (HPC) environments, will join the Sandy Bridge-based Xeon E3 for low-end systems and the current higher-end Westmere-based Xeon E7 chips, which offer up to 10 cores and were released in April.

Intel is seeing strong adoption from OEMs for the Xeon E5, with more than 400 system design wins, which is more than twice the number there was for the Xeon 5500 "Nehalem" processors, released in 2009. Skaugen said the rapid adoption of cloud computing and the growth of HPC are driving interest in the new Xeons.

He predicted that within 60 days of launching the chip, 90 percent of Intel's cloud computing customers will be making plans to transition to the Xeon E5. Servers running the Xeon E5 will begin hitting the market early in 2012, said Skaugen, who expects to sell the chip in "extremely high volumes."

During a briefing Sept. 14 at IDF, John Hengeveld, director of HPC strategies at Intel, said the Xeon E5 will offer significant improvements over current products.

"It's the foundation of the next-generation data center," Hengeveld said.