A Closer Look at Intel's "Nehalem"-based Xeon 5500 Series

From DailyTech: Intel has unveiled its latest Xeon series of CPUs for servers and workstations. The Xeon 5500 series was formerly codenamed Nehalem-EP (Efficient Performance), and is related to the Nehalem CPUs used in Core i7 desktops.

The 5500 series features quad core processors built on a 45nm process using Hi-K metal gate technology, as found on the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors. Some models use Intel's Turbo Boost technology to operate one or more cores above the rated frequency to speed specific workloads. For example, the W5580 can be boosted from 3.2 GHz up to 3.33GHz, as long as power consumption and heat is within limits. Intelligent Power technology is also used to reduce power consumption during low utilization periods by shutting down unused cores.

This is achieved through the use of Integrated Power Gates, which allow individual idling cores to be reduced to near-zero power consumption independent of other operating cores. Intel claims this reduces idle power consumption to 10 watts, versus 16 or 50 watts in prior-generations of Intel quad-core processors. This feature is said to reduce server idle power consumption by up to 50 percent versus the previous generation of two-socket server processors.

The Xeon 5500 series is supported by the new Intel 5520 chipset, formerly codenamed Tylersburg-EP, available with the new Intel 82599 10Gb Ethernet controller. The chipset can support up to 18 slots of DDR3 DIMMs, and utilize up to 144 GB of DDR3 memory.

QuickPath Interconnects and an integrated memory controller are touted to speed traffic between processors and I/O controllers for bandwidth intensive applications. The 5520 chipset is being touted as future-proof, with drop in support being the target when Westmere-EP Xeons arrive in Q2 of 2010.

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