Intel's multi-processor, dual-core Xeon 7000 debuts

Santa Clara (CA) - Lately, news coming out of Intel's digital enterprise group was not quite exciting. Delayed, scrapped and replaced processors were enough for some media to see the company in a 'self-destruction' mode. However, the server department continues its dual-core transition and today introduced the multi-processor version of the Xeon chip.

The new processor, formerly code-named Paxville MP and now listed as the Xeon 7000 series, launches three weeks after the first dual-core Xeon chip. The 7000 series fits in the current Truland platform, can work in 4- or 8-processor systems and supports the E8501 chipset with FSB667 and FSB800.

Interestingly, the launch of the Xeon 7000 does not appear to be an event that was planned too long ago. Originally scheduled for introduction in the first quarter of 2006, the company recently moved the chip into the fourth quarter 2005. And even the roadmap that was submitted to system builders in October lacked some information about the processor's features - such as the integration of the firm's virtualization technology (VT).

As we learned today, the 90 nm processor comes with VT for all four versions announced today. The models 7020, 7030, 7040 and 7041 introduce a new sequence number that will not see any changes until the introduction of the Paxville MP successor "Tulsa" - a 65 nm processor that is expected in the second half of 2006.

But even this lineup is confusing enough, as the chips differ in clock speed, L2 cache size and FSB clock speed. The 7020 runs at 2.66 GHz, includes 2 x 1 MByte cache and a 667 MHz FSB. The 7030 model (2.8 GHz) comes with the same L2 cache (2 x 1 MByte), but increases the clock speed to 800 MHz. The 7040 (3.0 GHz) drops to 667 MHz but integrates 2 x 2 MByte of L2 cache. The 7041 (3.0 GHz) has all the goodies with a FSB 800 and 2 x 2 MByte of L2 cache. All Xeon 7000 chips support Hyperthreading, power management features, and 64-bit extensions.

Tulsa, currently listed for the second half of 2006, is expected to decrease the power consumption of the processor, integrate 16 MByte of L3 cache and bring Pellston, a technology that repairs data errors in cache memory, and Foxton, which originally was developed for the Itanium 2 series and is able to adjust the clock speed of the processor on-the-fly, to the table.

Pricing for the Xeon 7000 ranges from $1177 to $3157 (in 1000-unit quantities).