Intel refreshes Xeon MP series with new Tulsa processors

Santa Clara (CA) - Intel launched eight new dual-core Xeon MP processors late Thursday. The new CPUs go head-to-head with AMD's Opteron 8000 series processors and are based on the "Tulsa" core which uses the power-hungry Netburst architecture that is being phased in all other product lines such as desktop and DP server processor families. Still, Intel promises that Tulsa drops power consumption by up to 30%.

Tulsa, which will go by the name Xeon MP 7100 series, effectively replaces the preceding 7000 series with the Paxville MP core. The big news about the new-generation is the transition from a 90 nm to a 65 nm production process, which, according to Intel, will improve performance and power consumption of the chip. Compared to Paxville MP, Tulsa "offers up to twice the performance and nearly three times better performance per watt," Intel said.

Despite smaller transistors, the new die measures 424 mm2 compared to 299 for Paxville, which is a result of Tulsa's bigger L3 cache (4 - 16 MB) and a total of 1.3 billion transistors. The new Xeon MPs won't set any record lows in power consumption, but are launched with the usual array of new performance records.

Die of the Xeon 7100 MP series

In the end, it will be up to the customers to compare the new MPs against Opteron processors to determine which CPUs perform better in certain application environments - and consume less power: While the Netburst architecture won't allow Intel to especially stress the power features of the CPU, the company says that there are lower-power versions with a thermal design power of 95 watts. That is Opteron territory, but consumers who are looking for more power efficiency in their 4P-32P systems will have to wait for the dual-core CPU "Tigerton" which is scheduled for launch sometime next year.

Intel offers the Xeon MP 7100 in "M" (FSB800) and "N" (FSB667) versions. The 7110N (2.5 GHz, 4 MB L3) and the 7110M (2.6 GHz, 4 MB) are available for $856, the 7120M/N (3 GHz, 4 MB) are priced at $1177, the 7130M/N (3.2/3.16 GHz, 8 MB) list for $1391 and the high-end 7140M/N (3.4/3.33 GHz, 16 MB) ring in at $1980.

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