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Intel to Reveal Eight-Core Xeon Next Month

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 21 comments

Macworld is reporting that Intel plans to detail an eight-core Xeon processor at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco next month.

The information about the upcoming reveal is scarce at best, however Macworld does say that Intel executives will discuss an eight-core, 16-thread Xeon processor manufactured with a 45-nanometer process. Naturally, Intel fired back at the website, saying that although the chip manufacturer is presenting 16 papers at ISSCC, it didn't have anything further to share in regards to the Xeon rumor. If the processor indeed comes to light at the conference, this will be the company's first eight-core chip.

Macworld speculates that the impending eight-core Xeon will probably be Intel's Nehalem EP processor, an upcoming chip designed for dual-socket workstations and servers. Scheduled for a release during early 2009, the Nehalem EP processor will use Intel's Quick Path Interconnect, eliminating the front-side bus and allow more data to flow between the processor and the other components installed in the system. The Nehalem EP processor will also include an integrated memory controller as well.

Last week, Intel reported that restructuring plans included the termination of five older factories, affecting between 5,000 and 6,000 workers worldwide, although some would stay on board and shift to other facilities. The company said restructuring would begin immediately and continue until the end of 2009. The affected facilities include two assembly test facilities in Penang, Malaysia and one in Cavite, Philippines. Production will halt at Fab 20 located in Hillsboro, Oregon; wafer production operations will cease at the D2 facility in Santa Clara, California.

Wednesday the company said it planned to cut 100 to 200 additional jobs at its Rio Rancho plant in New Mexico within the next few months. However, Intel reassured that although it will consolidate and streamline older operations, the restructuring would no impact the deployment of 45-nm and 32-nm manufacturing capacity.

The International Solid-State Circuits Conference will take place on February 8-12 in San Francisco. Intel will make its presentation during Session 3 at 1:30 PM PST, Monday, February 9th, entitled "A 45nm 8-Core enterprise Xeon Processor."

"An 8-core 16-thread enterprise Xeon processor has 2.3B transistors in 9M 45nm CMOS," reads the Conference program (PDF). "The I/O links the use per-lane TX and RX compensation to enable operation up to 6.4GT/s. Vertical and horizontal splines keep the undercore clock skew under 19p before engaging the compensation. Core and cache shut-off techniques are used to minimize leakage."

Intel will also make other presentations at 2 pm (A Family of 45nm IA Processors) and 3:15pm (Dynamic Frequency-Switching Clock System on a Quad-Core Itanium Processor."

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  • 0 Hide
    Pei-chen , January 30, 2009 11:28 AM
    Darn, just installed my first quad yesterday (Q6600).

    I thought the reason Nehalem has a rectangular die and not square is so Intel can fit two into LGA 1366. It is also the reason LGA 1366 being bigger than LGA 775. Also, why the 8-core Xeon has 2.3billion transistors when i7 only has 731million transistors?
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , January 30, 2009 11:41 AM
    ^The i7 is bigger mainly due to:
    1. Cache
    2. IMC
    3. The rest of the other stuff needed for HT,etc.
  • 1 Hide
    brausekopf , January 30, 2009 11:53 AM
    LGA 1366 is bigger because of the pins used for the integrated memory controller (IMC). The difference in Transistor count should be solely because of bigger cache in the Xeons. As always with Intel: the Xeons are the same chip as the desktop processors with bigger cache.

    I can only speculate about the fact that processors never seem to be square. Know that song "It's hip to be square."?
  • 1 Hide
    Tindytim , January 30, 2009 1:36 PM
    Pei-chenDarn, just installed my first quad yesterday (Q6600).I thought the reason Nehalem has a rectangular die and not square is so Intel can fit two into LGA 1366. It is also the reason LGA 1366 being bigger than LGA 775. Also, why the 8-core Xeon has 2.3billion transistors when i7 only has 731million transistors?


    The Xeon may be an LGA 1567 chip.
  • 2 Hide
    MU_Engineer , January 30, 2009 3:10 PM
    Pei-chenDarn, just installed my first quad yesterday (Q6600).I thought the reason Nehalem has a rectangular die and not square is so Intel can fit two into LGA 1366. It is also the reason LGA 1366 being bigger than LGA 775. Also, why the 8-core Xeon has 2.3billion transistors when i7 only has 731million transistors?


    I don't think that Intel can do a dual-die MCM with the Nehalem-EP since it has an IMC. Nobody in the x86 world at least has made an MCM with an IMC- all MCMs have been on FSB-equipped chips since the FSB's shared-bus nature makes it easy to tack two dies together in a package. Doing so with an IMC-equipped chip requires a die-to-die bus to be run to get die-to-die I/O and I don't know if QPI can do that. AMD is slated to be the first to try an MCM with IMCs with its dual-6-core-die "Magny-Cours" in 2010.

    The Nehalem-EPs are LGA1567, not LGA1366. The reason LGA1366's socket was large is that it has a lot of lands and Intel also wanted to be able to have a large IHS and heatsink to dissipate the high heat output of overclocked i7s.

    The 8-core Xeon has 2.3 billion transistors because it has eight cores versus four for the Bloomfield and likely has more more than 2 MB of L3 per core that the Bloomfield does. Intel likes to tack a lot of L3 onto their Xeons, particularly the MP versions, and L3 cache can eat up a bunch of transistors.
  • 0 Hide
    average joe , January 30, 2009 3:29 PM
    The eight core chip probably has more transistors than 2 quad core chips because there going to run some kind of huge cache or other some other techniques to keep all eight cores busy.
  • 2 Hide
    trevorvdw , January 30, 2009 3:42 PM
    brausekopfAs always with Intel: the Xeons are the same chip as the desktop processors with bigger cache.


    Not always ... Core2 E8400 = Xeon E3110 ... same chip, same cache.
  • 0 Hide
    DXRick , January 30, 2009 4:25 PM
    Under what conditions does 8 cores offer a performance boost over 4 cores? According to this article the memory controller (memory bandwidth) is a big bottleneck.
  • 0 Hide
    squatchman , January 30, 2009 4:36 PM
    DXrickUnder what conditions does 8 cores offer a performance boost over 4 cores? According to this article the memory controller (memory bandwidth) is a big bottleneck.


    It's not a matter of changing the conditions under which existing code runs. Software has to be written correctly to be highly parallel-izable, and a large portion of the software out there isn't.

    I'm going to stretch and say that a real answer to this question falls out of the scope of an internet message board.
  • 0 Hide
    rambo117 , January 30, 2009 5:04 PM
    wow, eight cores.... i wonder what the core clock is gonna be on it. and, how is one suposed to cool this with air?? :p 
    unless it has a really low Vcore or is made to run really hot..
  • -1 Hide
    tipoo , January 30, 2009 5:09 PM
    hmm...dual octa core mac pro anyone???


    32 threads of pointlessness.
  • 3 Hide
    Tindytim , January 30, 2009 5:43 PM
    DXrickUnder what conditions does 8 cores offer a performance boost over 4 cores? According to this article the memory controller (memory bandwidth) is a big bottleneck.

    most conditions where one would get this processor.

    Pretty much all 3D rendering applications I've seen are scalable, those 16 threads would benefit them hugely. Most server/workstation applications are highly scalable. Data processing and accurate physics simulations could benefit from this aswell.

    This probably won't do you much good in a desktop running day to day applications, even if you game (most games aren't written in a scalable manner).
  • -1 Hide
    hellwig , January 30, 2009 5:47 PM
    tipoohmm...dual octa core mac pro anyone???
    32 threads of pointlessness.


    Pointless indeed. 32-threads are only going to be utilized by specialized multi-threaded software like rendering CGI movies or running scientific computations. There's just not that muhc processing to do in most consumer and even commercial settings. Maybe we'll see a trend back towards console computers. Cheap, front-end machines rely on the powerful servers behind them to do the actual work.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 30, 2009 7:45 PM
    The article doesn't refer to this chip as "Beckton", a codename I've seen used in the past (e.g., on Wikpedia), but this does seem to fit the Beckton description elsewhere, which in other places has been described as coming more towards the second half of the year. I look forward to it, in any event -- some of us do indeed use all those cores!
  • 0 Hide
    MU_Engineer , January 30, 2009 7:49 PM
    hellwigPointless indeed. 32-threads are only going to be utilized by specialized multi-threaded software like rendering CGI movies or running scientific computations. There's just not that muhc processing to do in most consumer and even commercial settings. Maybe we'll see a trend back towards console computers. Cheap, front-end machines rely on the powerful servers behind them to do the actual work.


    Maybe at work, but not at home. First of all, the average home Internet connection isn't all that good to run an RDP, VNC, or X11 terminal from as latency is high and bandwidth is marginal. Secondly, who are you going to trust to run that backend server with all of your data on it? Google and their "we'll rifle through everything" clauses in their user agreements? Microsoft with their general ineptitude? Your ISP with its cruddy service and ridiculous rates? No, the most server-side stuff you'll see is browser-based applications as you will most certainly want to be in control of your own data storage and graphics.
  • 0 Hide
    average joe , January 30, 2009 11:10 PM
    I can imaginge if you ran a bunch of virtual servers off one box it could replace a whole rack of older equiptment. It might seem like a waste of horsepower but it would be very energy efficient to take out half a dozen old boxes replace then with one of these. I guess I'm saying there's no reason all 8 cores need to be working on the same problem particularily with the hyperthreading and enhanced virtualization built into an I7 core. Assuming the I/O subsystem could kep up.
  • 0 Hide
    NuclearShadow , January 31, 2009 3:43 AM
    While I'm all for advancement of technology I really wish certain parts would keep up to utilize such advances. If Intel were to give you one of those 8 cores by the time you would actually require it the processor will be junk compared to the then modern hardware.

    While I realize this isn't for the average consumer if you give it time it eventually will be with equal or even more powerful cpu's which still wouldn't really be needed. How many people are still running a Q6600 happily? Most programs still to this day don't take advantage all 4 cores. Intel really needs to start convincing others to make their programs take full advantage of their hardware.
  • -1 Hide
    Tindytim , January 31, 2009 4:11 AM
    NuclearshadowWhile I realize this isn't for the average consumer if you give it time it eventually will be with equal or even more powerful cpu's which still wouldn't really be needed.

    Nuff said. This is for servers that are going to be used for large data processing, scientific simulation, or as render farms. All of those apps take extremely well to multiple threads of execution.

    NuclearshadowHow many people are still running a Q6600 happily? Most programs still to this day don't take advantage all 4 cores. Intel really needs to start convincing others to make their programs take full advantage of their hardware.

    Did everyone forget about multitasking?

    I often work with multiple apps open at a time, and even if you're just playing a game, your OS doesn't magically shut off. Most games nowadays are programed for 2 threads, so having 4 leaves plenty of execution space for your OS, and maybe even a Music app.

  • -2 Hide
    enforcer22 , January 31, 2009 9:33 PM

    Did everyone forget about multitasking?I often work with multiple apps open at a time, and even if you're just playing a game, your OS doesn't magically shut off. Most games nowadays are programed for 2 threads, so having 4 leaves plenty of execution space for your OS, and maybe even a Music app.


    Its either mulithreaded or its not. your OS only needs a single core and most of the time really only uses one. Most games arent multithreaded yet which is a huge problem. Not only are games not multi threaded but most programs arent either. Multi chip and core cpus have been out for as long as i can remember even though for the end user this has only been for a few years its really been there for decades now. Its beyond me that no one is making programs to take advantage of this extra power.

    Also last time i checked most programs that arent multi thread enabled will only recognise and execute on the first core it see's since its only expecting to see 1 core so multitasking is kinda a weak excuse. Windows can do fine on its own core and whatever program your using does fine on its core. after that its mostly pointless.

    World In Conflict is multi threaded it also has securom o well....... good game but whats the point.

    Also am i missing something? Did HT actualy become a true logical processor? if not its not truely 16 core thats really a missleading statment.
  • 0 Hide
    apache_lives , February 1, 2009 9:27 PM
    finally we may see that tri channel DDR3 goto good use here?

    That 2.3 billion transistor count may be the cache, even some of those netburst based xeon's had double didget cache figures.

    Intel did design this cpu to be modular so.
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