OEMs Take Advantage of Dempsey

IBM and HP build on the Intel chip's power efficiency features in their x86 servers.

OEMs are taking advantage of the availability of Intels latest Xeon DP processors to bring new features to their x86 server lines.

IBM is offering its PowerExecutive in its line of System x servers, starting with new machines announced May 23 that will be armed with Intels dual-core "Dempsey" processor. At the same time, Hewlett-Packard is rolling out new software designed to simplify the migration of x86 Windows-based servers to Intels new platforms, as well as enhancements to its ProLiant architecture, including new HP Smart Array RAID controllers and small form-factor SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) drives.

Meanwhile, Dell on May 23 announced two new Precision workstations, and MPC Computers said it will use Intels new 5000 series of chips in upcoming NetFrame servers.

Dempsey, which began shipping in the first quarter, is part of a larger push by Intel to refocus its processors on overall performance rather than pure speed. The 65-nanometer chip comes with a number of features designed to improve performance without simply cranking up the frequency, including the Intel Virtualization Technology.

The effort comes after rival Advanced Micro Devices has cut into Intels dominant market share in both server and client processors over the past three years. AMD designed its Opteron server chip to be energy-efficient and has beaten Intel in offering such features as 64-bit capabilities and dual cores. Opterons also have boasted a smaller power envelope than Xeon chips, something Intel is working to catch up on. The energy efficiency of the chips is becoming increasingly important as concern grows among businesses over power and cooling costs in their data centers.

The mainstream Dempsey chip will have a power envelope of 95 watts, with the performance-optimized Dempseys coming in at 135 watts. Mainstream Opteron chips have a power envelope of about 95 watts.

The chip also will enhance performance by doubling up on buses that carry data to processors and memory, and by using FB-DIMMs (fully buffered dual in-line memory modules).

Dempsey is an interim step for Intel before it launches "Woodcrest," the first Xeon built on its new Core microarchitecture. The chip is expected to ship in June.

Intel officials initially put the mainstream Woodcrest processor at 80 watts, but in an interview with eWEEK, they said the mainstream chip will come in at 65 watts, with a low-voltage Woodcrest having a power envelope of 40 watts. The chip initially will top out at 3GHz.

Intel officials predict Woodcrest will improve server performance by 80 percent while cutting power consumption by 35 percent.

Next Page: Power management.