Dell's first quad-core systems indicate hefty premium for Kentsfield CPU

Round Rock (TX) - Dell today began offering the option of adding Intel's upcoming quad-core Xeon 5300 and Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processors to selected models of its PowerEdge servers and Precision workstations. While the official tray price of the desktop CPU QX6700 remains at $1000, Dell will be charging a substantial premium for the privilege of using one of the first quad-core CPUs.

Dell today became the first large system builder to announce that Intel's quad-core processors - the Xeon 5300 series with Clovertown core on the server side and the Core 2 Extreme QX6700 with Kentsfield core for workstations and desktops - are now officially configuration options for some of its server and workstation products. It is a somewhat unusual move by Dell, as the quad-core processors have yet to be announced by Intel. Dell did not say when the systems will actually ship, but mentions on its product configuration pages that the quad-core option will delay an order by about 15 days.

On the very high-end, Dell is offering quad-core processors for its PowerEdge 1900, 1950, 2950, 2900, SC1430 and 1955 blade models. Choosing a quad-core Xeon 5300 processor, will add $500 (1.6 GHz) or $750 (1.86 GHz) to the server's price. The entry-level PowerEdge 1900 with a 1.6 GHz quad-core chip is priced from about $1700, but some creativity and need for more horsepower can lift the price tag of a single 1900 blade server into the neighborhood of $40,000, when equipped with dual quad-core processors and 32 GB of memory. Prices for tower versions of the PowerEdge 2900 range from about $6500 to over $50,000.

There are also new quad-core capable workstations, including the Precision 690 and 490 models that use the Xeon 5300 series as well as the Precision 390, which can be configured with a Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor. While the Xeon models follow the pricing model of the PowerEdge servers - a 1.86 GHz quad-core upgrade is listed for $620 - a Kentsfield workstation can get very pricey. Upgrading from a 1.86 GHz Core 2 Duo E6300 to a 2.66 Core 2 Extreme QX6700 will cost buyers $1234, which puts the price of an "entry-level" Kentsfield workstation from Dell at just over $4000 (the E6300 model is priced at about $2800.) A likely slower, but also quad-core equipped Precision 490 system is priced from about $3400.

Besides the quad-core models, Dell also announced lower-end workstations. The Optiplex 320 series is now available with Pentium D processors from $585. The Optiplex 740 series is Dell's first business desktop family with AMD (Athlon 64 X2) processors, includes a trusted platform module (v1.2) and is priced from $725.