The 15 new processors in the Xeon 5600 line include low-power chips and come in quad-core and six-core variants, the company said. The processors are faster than the older Xeon 5500 series chips, which were launched about a year ago.
The clock speeds of the new chips range from 1.86GHz for the quad-core Xeon L5609 processor, which consumes only 40 watts of power, to 3.46GHz for the fastest Xeon X5677 six-core chip, which draws up to 130 watts. All the processor chips include 12MB of cache.
A lot of businesses still run single-core chips in servers, and adoption of the new chips is an "economic no-brainer," said Boyd Davis, general manager of the data center marketing group at Intel. One Xeon 5600 server will be able to replace up to 15 single-core servers, Davis said. A low-voltage, six-core Xeon 2.26GHz L5640 chip drawing 60 watts will deliver comparable performance to the older quad-core 2.93GHz Xeon 5570 chip using 95 watts, Intel said.
The new chips are part of the Westmere architecture and are being made using the 32-nanometer process, which helps improve chip performance while reducing power leaks. The older Xeon 5500 processors, based on the Nehalem architecture, were made using the older 45-nm manufacturing process.
The processors also include a number of new features that will help improve system speed and security, Intel’s Davis said. For example, the chips will be capable of shutting down idle cores to save power.
The security features include a new instruction set for faster data encryption and decryption called Advanced Encryption Standard – New Instructions (AES-NI). The AES algorithm is commonly used in software to encrypt and decrypt hard drives. Another new hardware security technology is the Intel TXT (Trusted Execution Transaction) technology, which could help secure data as it moves in virtualized environments, Boyd said.
The chips are priced between US$387 and $1,663, depending on the speed and power used by the processors. A number of vendors, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Fujitsu, are announcing new servers with Xeon 5600 processors. Some servers will ship later this month.
Intel already offers a six-core Xeon processor code-named Dunnington that was announced in 2008. The company is also expected to announce an eight-core Nehalem-EX server processor later this month as it tries to improve the performance of chips by adding more cores.
Intel introduced a line of Xeon server chips that operate up to 60% faster than previous server processors, the company has said.