Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Built-In Virtualization

Intel’s Xeon 7500-Series CPUs Target Enterprise Computing
By

The four memory channels are a big deal for those with large workloads in play, such as virtualization environments. Large enterprises are running massive virtualization environments, with hundreds of virtual machines on one physical server. The processing power isn't the issue; it's available memory, since the memory can't be shared. Each virtual machine has to be walled off for a number of obvious reasons, and that means memory allocated to each separate virtual machine.

Xeon 7500-series processors can accomodate up to 2TB in an eight-socket configuration, 1TB in a four-socket configuration, and 512GB of memory in a two-socket system, which is much more than any previous architecture. For measure, Cisco's Unified Computing System blades use two Nehalem Xeon 5500-series processors, and they needed a special ASIC designed by Cisco that makes four DIMMs appear as one to the system, allowing them to cram 384GB on a two-socket blade. Now, Intel is offering 512GB on a two-socket setup.

Memory isn't the only way the Xeon 7500-series supports virtualization. The chips contain Intel Virtualization Technologies (VT), several new hardware-based features designed to optimize the chip for a virtualization world. One of the big bottlenecks in virtualization, along with memory constraints, is I/O. When you have dozens or hundreds of virtual machines on one box all fighting for the same Ethernet port, the same PCI buses, the same memory and SATA buses, well, it can create a lot of choke points.

Intel VT includes FlexMigration, which works in live virtual machine migrations across all Intel Core and Nehalem-based platforms to allow continuous operation without interruption. It also allows processors to be added or removed from the pool of processors dedicated to virtualized systems. You might want to add a few CPUs for additional load, for instance, or free some up. FlexMigration makes it possible to add and remove them while the server is running.

Display all 19 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 3 Hide
    surda , April 8, 2010 7:20 AM
    even though i dont read much about server processors but this just sounds super fast, i like how it has alot of error stages checking so that it stays 24/7 without crashing, but do they really need all that speed for servers? i just gotta say hardware technology is moving very fast these days.

    nice article btw thank you.
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , April 8, 2010 7:27 AM
    These chips are absolute beasts! They do run at low frequencies however. (But would you want 130W chips in a 4P/8P box?)
    4 memory channels, 16 DIMMs per CPU, damn. I imagine you'd spend more on the 16GB DDR3 DIMMs than you would the processors though.
    Also nice to hear that these scale well in 4P/8P boxes.

    But I must ask, why are the 7500 chips in 45nm? Is the 32nm process still too immature to make a 2 billion transistor chip with any decent level of success?

    Assuming a 8P box, all CPU's clocked to 3.5GHz (~120GFlop per CPU, ~1TFlops total), you could run a few games purely in software mode and still get good performance. Damn.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , April 8, 2010 8:01 AM
    "In the course of one week, two separate events signaled what may be the end of Intel's grand experiment with RISC architecture. Intel released the Xeon 7500-series processor family, containing many features found in the Itanium, a RISC-based design developed in partnership with Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft ended its support of Itanium."

    When did Itanium change from being a VLIW architecture to being a RISC architecture?... It was designed to overcome some RISC architecture limitations of the day. XScale was Intel's big RISC mistake...
  • -1 Hide
    RazberyBandit , April 8, 2010 8:31 AM
    I think it's just poor wording. Both portions of that sentence refer to the Xeon-7500. Try it this way:

    "In the course of one week, two separate events signaled what may be the end of Intel's grand experiment with RISC architecture. Intel released the Xeon 7500-series processor family, a RISC-based design developed in partnership with Hewlett-Packard containing many features found in the Itanium, and Microsoft ended its support of Itanium."

    There, all better!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 8, 2010 9:02 AM
    How necessary is it to have the error correction circuitry? If it's that important and the normal desktop and server architecture doesn't have it then are we not all accumulating errors in our data and code? With what frequency does this happen in the real world - and is the machine check architecture actually important, or just a bullet point for a sales brochure?
  • 3 Hide
    gglawits , April 8, 2010 5:17 PM
    AMD's Magny-Cours is the better value proposition.
    Compare the AMD 6128 (8 cores, 2.0 GHz, $266 list price) against the Xeon X7550 (8 cores, 2.0 GHz, $2729 list price) and you'll see what I mean. The XEON cost more than 10 times as much! Sure it's faster, but not 10 times faster. Not even 2 times faster.
  • -8 Hide
    cjl , April 8, 2010 5:23 PM
    gglawitsAMD's Magny-Cours is the better value proposition.Compare the AMD 6128 (8 cores, 2.0 GHz, $266 list price) against the Xeon X7550 (8 cores, 2.0 GHz, $2729 list price) and you'll see what I mean. The XEON cost more than 10 times as much! Sure it's faster, but not 10 times faster. Not even 2 times faster.

    You clearly didn't understand a word of this article.
  • 1 Hide
    KlamathBFG , April 8, 2010 7:40 PM
    Also consider the applications that can have their life extended with a new scaled up limit and compare that to the cost of re-engineering those applications and suddenly $2729 a processor sounds cheap $27,900 or in some cases $272,900 would still be cheap.
  • -5 Hide
    idisarmu , April 8, 2010 11:24 PM
    gglawitsAMD's Magny-Cours is the better value proposition.Compare the AMD 6128 (8 cores, 2.0 GHz, $266 list price) against the Xeon X7550 (8 cores, 2.0 GHz, $2729 list price) and you'll see what I mean. The XEON cost more than 10 times as much! Sure it's faster, but not 10 times faster. Not even 2 times faster.


    You sir, are an idiot. RAM is MUCH more expensive than these CPUs. Even 16gb of desktop DDR3 memory costs about $800. Now these mobos generally have more than 4 dimms per cpu- more like 8, so $1600 for RAM makes a $266 CPU seem really really cheap. Now server memory is always more expensive, so I think it would make perfect sense to spend $2000 more in order to have a system with fewer bottlenecks.
  • 3 Hide
    ta152h , April 8, 2010 11:56 PM
    Why comment on the Itanium when you don't know what it is? This doesn't signal the writing on the wall, only 6% of Itanium buyers were using Windows.

    It still has reliability features far exceeding the Nehalem-EX, and they are still greatly supported by the largest computer maker in the world, which, by the way, also was the original designer.

    It's not going anywhere.
  • 2 Hide
    gglawits , April 9, 2010 6:07 PM
    For the two rude Intel fanboys "cjl" and "isisarmu", here's the math:

    Two-socket 16 core Opteron system with 32 GByte RAM:
    Tyan S8230 ... $460 (source: Froogle)
    two Opteron 6128 ... $266 x 2 = $532 (source: AMD)
    sixteen 2GByte DDR3 ECC DIMMs ... $60 x 16 = $1000 (source: Froogle)
    case, P/S, HD ... $400 (estim.)
    Grand total ... $2400 for a 16 core, 32 GByte server ($150 per core)

    Two-socket 16 core Intel "Beckton" system with 32 GByte RAM:
    motherboard ... $478 (assumed price, not available yet)
    two Xeon E6550 ... $2461 x 2 = $4922 (source: Intel)
    sixteen 2GByte DDR3 ECC DIMMs ... $60 x 16 = $1000 (source: Froogle)
    case, P/S, HD ... $400 (estim.)
    Grand total ... $6800 for a 16 core server, more than $400 per core

    Again, nobody doubts that the "Beckton" system will be faster.
    But, hey, $2400 vs. $6800 is a heck of a price difference.
  • -1 Hide
    notty22 , April 9, 2010 11:46 PM
    I think its the AMD fanboy who is not paying attention. Its stated clearly in the article AMD themselves don't see M-C as a competitor to this product.
    Quote:
    AMD has never positioned M-C as a competitor to the Xeon 7500-series; it sees the Intel Xeon 5600 processor family as its primary competitor.

    This does not take a genius to figure out !
    There are countless mission critical scenarios where second best in speed/reliability will cost companies money + get people fired(IT guy who chose the 'better deal' . Financial transactions with the NYSE, Amazon.coms inventory, Credit Card companies customer's accounts......
  • 0 Hide
    Reynod , April 10, 2010 2:59 AM
    I think the point is that N-EX will target much of the market space previously held at the top ... not the middle ... where Beckton sits, and AMD hopes to win back both the low end (2P) and eat into the middle (4P) with their price / power / efficiency strategy ... 6100.

    That's good news for small businesses ... as costs for the low and mid range systems will drop due to competition.

    N-EX based systems will nevertheless cost you an arm, leg, and possibly a kidney ... no competition there to dissuade Intel to drop the price.

    And why should they? Must have cost a squillion on the R&D to make this puppy pass inspection... many engineers toiling into the wee hours.

    Good article ... a tremendous chip too.

  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , April 10, 2010 11:35 AM
    "Itanium servers were usually multi-million dollar beasts that ran multi-petabyte Oracle databases or line-of-business applications that had to always run."

    petabyte - how many zeroes after the 1?
  • 0 Hide
    goodguy713 , April 10, 2010 1:04 PM
    lol i would love to see gaming bench marks on a system like this
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , April 10, 2010 3:24 PM
    We are using 6 Dl580 G5 with two socket 6-core 7400x cpu and 63GB RAM on each server in a single ESX4 cluster. Total 384GB of RAM, ll hooked up to 80 Terabytes of FiberChannel 15k DISKs on a EMC Clariion SAN. There are about 200 virtual machines including Exchange 2007, SQL servers, oracle server, and a large number of application servers running on OS ranging from server 2000, 2003 and server 2008. The CPU load are barely over 30% utilization.

    Imagine if we have these X7500 CPU they would be just sleeping. LOL

    Imagine if I had the X7500 CPU in these
  • 0 Hide
    ossie , April 10, 2010 5:22 PM
    Finally intel comes to the 8P party... where AMD was for almost a decade... alone, with no intel in sight - Opteron 8xx(x) anyone?
    While 8P systems amount to a tiny fraction of the server/workstation market - mostly 2P and some 4P - evolution is always welcomed.
    notty22I think its the AMD fanboy who is not paying attention. Its stated clearly in the article AMD themselves don't see M-C as a competitor to this product. This does not take a genius to figure out !
    ... more wintel fanboy b$. If some THGossip article "states" something, it must be true... right? Wrong.

    Even accustomed with the usual THGossip wintel bias and hype, micro$uxx' relevance in the mission-critical market is more than overblown... they're plain irrelevant.
    No more Itanic support? Good riddance - only gamer loader diehards would've used the crap from redmond anyway.

    jacp1000How necessary is it to have the error correction circuitry? If it's that important and the normal desktop and server architecture doesn't have it then are we not all accumulating errors in our data and code? With what frequency does this happen in the real world - and is the machine check architecture actually important, or just a bullet point for a sales brochure?

    All critical servers/workstations implement ECC. If not, it would be just a russian roulette game, until data corruption or crashes occur.
    It's not about "if" - errors are guaranteed to occur - but about "when" - and how to reliably detect, and correct them, and if uncorrectable ones appear, to take appropriate measures.
    Even if the drm infested games loader doesn't support RAS features, it doesn't mean that serious work shouldn't be done, where they are mandatory.
  • 0 Hide
    K2N hater , April 11, 2010 8:09 PM
    These processors will never show their true potential while running on cheap 1-2U heatsinks and tiny fans that last 1 year at most.
  • 0 Hide
    bentonsl_2010 , April 12, 2010 1:47 PM
    Quote:
    "Itanium servers were usually multi-million dollar beasts that ran multi-petabyte Oracle databases or line-of-business applications that had to always run."

    petabyte - how many zeroes after the 1?



    1 PB = 1,000,000,000,000,000 or 1000 TB's