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Today marks a turning point for Intel. Despite of good overall profit and great headlines on advances in manufacturing, the firm has had to suffer from tremendous criticizm over the last 18 months. When compared to AMD processors, the Pentium and Xeon lines were regularly given a beating and are well known for their disproportional energy hunger. It was a matter of time until these drawbacks had to reflect on market shares and as this happened, stockholders certainly weren't leaping for joy. Intel had to leap ahead, quickly.
The Core 2 microarchitecture shall change all that, and after months of hard work Intel wants to adjust everything that has been going sour. As of today, upcoming processors are promised to be faster and more efficient than the competitor's products. The Xeon server processors starts off, Core 2 Duo for desktops and notebooks will follow later.
Intel's marketing division has done an amazing job, because most technical details, code names and product names of the Core 2 product generation, and what to expect from each product, is a matter of common knowledge now. The course was plotted at the fall Intel Developer Forum last year (multi-core, performance per Watt); then the company delivered an impressively large amount of details on the new microarchitecture to the public in the following spring IDF 2006. Intel also provided the opportunity to do hands-on benchmarking on Core 2 systems. The result of this groundwork is that every informed user, journalist or analyst has a more or less accurate impression on what to expect from Core 2.
We will spend some time in the upcoming weeks to verify whether or not this impression matches the facts that are presented today. This article deals with the technical details of the Xeon 5100 family (Woodcrest) and its Bensley platform (5000 chipset). We will then release an in-depth comparison between AMD's current Opteron 285 and the Xeon 5160.