Intel rolled out a new range of Xeon processor chips Tuesday that are based on the chipmaker's 32nm logic technology featuring second-generation high-k metal gate transistors. Called the Intel Xeon Processor 5600 series, the new server and workstation devices promise to decrease energy consumption in data-center applications even as they boost processing speeds.
Xeon 5600 processors also deliver two new security features for faster encryption and decryption. When deployed in virtualized environments, they provide data centers with a stronger foundation for cloud security, said Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group.
"The Intel Xeon Processor 5600 series will be the backbone of mainstream computing environments," Skaugen said. They are designed to foster productivity and efficiency for a broad range of applications -- "from data transactions to workstations performing medical imaging and digital prototyping," he added.
Robust Security Features
The Xeon 5600 chips, which come in four-core and six-core versions, deliver up to 60 percent greater performance than Intel's earlier 45nm Xeon 5500 series. As a result, data centers will be able to replace 15 single-core servers with one new server and achieve a return on their investment in as little as five months, Intel said.
"With a CPU upgrade to the new Intel Xeon processor 5600 series, the accelerated version of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer achieved a 1.64x improvement in query throughput," said SAP Vice President Roland Kurz. "It would take us many person-years to optimize our software stack to achieve the same performance gain."
For security, the Xeon 5600 chips include Intel AES-NI -- a set of instructions for accelerating the performance of systems running the Advanced Encryption Standard adopted by the U.S. government. "This faster, more robust encryption will benefit a broad range of Oracle solutions, including Oracle Database, and our customers can now secure data better without performance overhead," said Oracle Vice President Marie-Anne Neimat.
What's more, the Xeon 5600 processors integrate hardware-based capabilities that shield the chips against malicious software, Skaugen said. Also on tap is Intel Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) for boosting the security of cloud-computing applications as they move between virtualized servers.
iSuppli believes the number of servers sold for use in virtualized environments will grow from 17 percent of total worldwide server shipments in 2009 to 25 percent in 2013. "Therefore as more applications, services and data are stored on, or manipulated, by such servers, security becomes increasingly critical," said Matthew Wilkins, a principal analyst at the research firm.
Embedded Xeon Processors
Peak Xeon 5600 processor speeds range between 2.66 GHz and 3.46 GHz, depending on the number of cores, while thermal design power (TDP) ratings range between 80 and 130 watts. Also on tap are low-voltage four-core and six-core versions of the chip with TDPs as low as 40 and 60 watts, respectively.
Xeon 5600 pricing ranges from $387 to $1,663 in quantities of 1,000. Server and workstation systems based on the new chips are expected from Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Oracle and other vendors worldwide, Intel said.
Intel also unveiled Xeon processors for embedded computing applications Tuesday that are squarely aimed at thermally constrained and robust communications environments. Featuring seven-year life-cycle support, the six-core Xeon E5645 and L5638 chips -- together with Intel's new quad-core L5618 and E5620 processors -- are designed to route applications more quickly and efficiently between connected devices.
Intel's E5645, L5638 and L5618 embedded processors are priced at $958, $958 and $530, respectively. Additionally, Intel's Xeon L3406 chip for single-processor micro-servers is available for $189 in 1K quantities. Featuring a TDP of just 30 watts, the L3406 is ideal for deployment in high-density form factors and power-sensitive environments, Intel said.