Reliability aside, the Xeon 7500-series should prove to be a solid performance play, clobbering its predecessor, the 7400-series, in every way imaginable.
Of course, the comparison isn't even close, given that the 7400 was based on the Core architecture and the 7500 is based on Nehalem.
|Xeon 7400||Xeon 7500|
|Memory Controller||Front-side Bus||On-die controller|
|Max CPU sockets||4||8|
|Memory slots per CPU||8||16|
The eight socket support was a surprise Intel dropped during the launch of the chip. Prior to the Xeon 7500-series, you couldn't put more than four processors in a motherboard without needing a special controller chip called a node manager, and then you weren't liable to see much of a scale-up. With its Xeon 7500-series processors, Intel promises you can put eight processors on a motherboard without needing a node manager, and performance will scale up to 80 percent per processor. In other words, if you go from four processors to eight, you should be able to expect a near-doubling of performance.
The launch of the 7500-series was one of the most impressive ever for Intel. It usually has OEM partners present for a server processor launch. IBM, Dell, HP, Cray, SGI, NEC, Fujitsu, Cisco, and Oracle/Sun were all there to show off hardware. Dell and HP both demonstrated their first four-socket blades and Dell unveiled its first four-socket racks. It had only sold two-socket models before. Cray had its first Xeon servers (it has always been an AMD shop). NEC, Fujitsu, and Oracle showed off eight-socket servers, and SGI outdid everyone, showing off a 256-socket server.
There were also a lot of software vendors there to pledge support for the 7500-series, in particular the processor’s virtualization functionality. Citrix, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat, and VMware all announced plans to certify and tune their software for the processor and its increased workload capabilities.