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Intel’s Xeon 7500-Series CPUs Target Enterprise Computing

Built-In Virtualization

The four memory channels are a big deal for those with large workloads in play, such as virtualization environments. Large enterprises are running massive virtualization environments, with hundreds of virtual machines on one physical server. The processing power isn't the issue; it's available memory, since the memory can't be shared. Each virtual machine has to be walled off for a number of obvious reasons, and that means memory allocated to each separate virtual machine.

Xeon 7500-series processors can accomodate up to 2TB in an eight-socket configuration, 1TB in a four-socket configuration, and 512GB of memory in a two-socket system, which is much more than any previous architecture. For measure, Cisco's Unified Computing System blades use two Nehalem Xeon 5500-series processors, and they needed a special ASIC designed by Cisco that makes four DIMMs appear as one to the system, allowing them to cram 384GB on a two-socket blade. Now, Intel is offering 512GB on a two-socket setup.

Memory isn't the only way the Xeon 7500-series supports virtualization. The chips contain Intel Virtualization Technologies (VT), several new hardware-based features designed to optimize the chip for a virtualization world. One of the big bottlenecks in virtualization, along with memory constraints, is I/O. When you have dozens or hundreds of virtual machines on one box all fighting for the same Ethernet port, the same PCI buses, the same memory and SATA buses, well, it can create a lot of choke points.

Intel VT includes FlexMigration, which works in live virtual machine migrations across all Intel Core and Nehalem-based platforms to allow continuous operation without interruption. It also allows processors to be added or removed from the pool of processors dedicated to virtualized systems. You might want to add a few CPUs for additional load, for instance, or free some up. FlexMigration makes it possible to add and remove them while the server is running.

  • 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