Intel to launch eight core Nehalem EX server chips

Intel will release its fastest and highly anticipated eight-core Nehalem-EX server processor later this month, a company executive said.

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Intel will release its fastest and highly anticipated eight-core Nehalem-EX server processor later this month, a company executive said.

The processor will be targeted at four socket servers, said Shannon Poulin, Xeon platform director at Intel. Each physical core will be able to run two threads simultaneously, giving the chip 64 virtual processing cores on servers.

Intel's CEO Paul Otellini has described Nehalem-EX as Intel's fastest processor to date. The chip maker announced the processor last year, and said it would release the chip in the first half of this year, but did not provide an exact release date.

Poulin declined to provide the clock speed of the chips. However, the company has said it will include 24MB of cache, and 2.3 billion transistors.

Intel is targeting the chip at high-end systems running data-intensive applications such as databases. IBM earlier this week said it would implement Nehalem-EX chips in its System x EX5 servers.

The chip will be made using the 45-nanometer process, and be based on the Nehalem microarchitecture, which integrates the memory controller and improves system speed by cutting data bottlenecks that plagued Intel's earlier chips.

Intel is also including new technologies like MCA recovery error correction that could make servers more fault tolerant and provide greater uptime, he said. The processor will be able to detect system errors originating in the CPU or system memory and correct them by working with the operating system. Some of these technologies have been adapted from Intel's high-end Itanium processors, which are based on a separate chip architecture and go into fault-tolerant systems.

The new processor will also contain separate buffered memory chips that can store data temporarily alongside the main memory for faster task execution.

Intel will also offer four memory channels per processor, Poulin said. That will put it on par with Advanced Micro Devices' twelve-core Opteron server processors, code-named Magny-Cours, which also offer four memory channels per processor. More channels provide more memory bandwidth to run programs faster.

AMD has started shipping Magny-Cours processors, and Intel's Nehalem-EX should intensify the battle between the rivals as both companies reach out to claim benchmark crowns, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64. Intel will build large amounts of cache inside Nehalem-EX that could help the processor deliver faster performance, but AMD's Magny Cours has more physical cores per chip.

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