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Intel’s Xeon 7500-Series CPUs Target Enterprise Computing

7500-Series Versus 7400-Series

Reliability aside, the Xeon 7500-series should prove to be a solid performance play, clobbering its predecessor, the 7400-series, in every way imaginable.

Of course, the comparison isn't even close, given that the 7400 was based on the Core architecture and the 7500 is based on Nehalem.

Xeon 7400Xeon 7500
Cores4/64/8
Memory ControllerFront-side BusOn-die controller
Hyper-ThreadingNoYes
MemoryFB-DIMMDDR3
Memory Channels24
Max CPU sockets48
Memory slots per CPU816
L3 cache16MB24MB

The eight socket support was a surprise Intel dropped during the launch of the chip. Prior to the Xeon 7500-series, you couldn't put more than four processors in a motherboard without needing a special controller chip called a node manager, and then you weren't liable to see much of a scale-up. With its Xeon 7500-series processors, Intel promises you can put eight processors on a motherboard without needing a node manager, and performance will scale up to 80 percent per processor. In other words, if you go from four processors to eight, you should be able to expect  a near-doubling of performance.

The launch of the 7500-series was one of the most impressive ever for Intel. It usually has OEM partners present for a server processor launch. IBM, Dell, HP, Cray, SGI, NEC, Fujitsu, Cisco, and Oracle/Sun were all there to show off hardware. Dell and HP both demonstrated their first four-socket blades and Dell unveiled its first four-socket racks. It had only sold two-socket models before. Cray had its first Xeon servers (it has always been an AMD shop). NEC, Fujitsu, and Oracle showed off eight-socket servers, and SGI outdid everyone, showing off a 256-socket server.

There were also a lot of software vendors there to pledge support for the 7500-series, in particular the processor’s virtualization functionality. Citrix, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat, and VMware all announced plans to certify and tune their software for the processor and its increased workload capabilities.

  • surda
    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.
    Reply
  • anamaniac
    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.
    Reply
  • "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...
    Reply
  • RazberyBandit
    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!
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • gglawits
    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.
    Reply
  • cjl
    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.
    Reply
  • KlamathBFG
    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.
    Reply
  • idisarmu
    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.
    Reply
  • ta152h
    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.
    Reply