1 core, 2 core, now 4 core!


Intel Corp. says its new 50-watt quad core Xeon processors, released Monday 12/03/2007, would help the chipmaker gain market leverage in an energy-conscious business environment.

Quadcore processor

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel said the two new 50-watt server processors — dubbed the Intel Xeon L5320 and L5310 respectively — would decrease users’ server power consumption by 35 to 60 percent versus Intel’s current 80-watt and 120-watt quad core server processors.

Clearly, Intel’s strategy with these two chips is aimed at a server market in which its’ main competitor Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Advanced Micro Devices Inc. intends to release processors that feature lower power consumption rates.

Warren Shiau, associate partner and senior analyst, IT research for The Strategic Counsel, said Intel has been taking it to AMD on price and performance. The new Xeons are part of the next wave of Intel’s attack: Performance per watt.

Intel quadcore

“This isn’t necessarily about having the lowest power consumption,” he said. “Intel traditionally has not been able to get lower consumption rates than AMD, so it’s gone for decreasing it’s power consumption to offer competitive levels with AMD, but not necessarily equal or better. The upside being that Intel, across the board, is going for and getting better performance-per-watt which seems to be the more relevant measure in the marketplace than having the absolute lowest power consumption.”

Shiau said the general consensus is that AMD isn’t really going to have an answer for everything Intel is hitting it with until AMD gets Barcelona-based products out the door in volume, which probably means another half-year of Intel taking it to AMD’s margins.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst for The Enderle Group, said latching onto the ‘green’ movement Stateside is a wise strategy, one that is in vogue with most companies, and particularly in the run-up to the forthcoming U.S. federal election in 2008.

“Green is big right now and likely to get bigger in the U.S. as elections approach. Initially much of the cause isn’t an environmental concern as it is that many IT shops are hitting thermal limits in their data centers and the cost of increasing the cooling can run into millions of dollars for an existing building,” he explained. “As a result, power, or in this case heat, has become a big concern. But, with the increased focus on the environment and the growing cost of fossil fuels suddenly there is even more focus on doing things efficiently.

Intel

“Both Intel and AMD have seen this trend coming and one of the major areas the two will be competing on is which company can do the most with the least amount of power, heat, and noise.”

Moreover, Enderle said the new Intel Xeons also showcases a skill set that would become more popular going forward in the channel. That is, the ability to efficiently map out and design data centers to maximize capacity and minimize the thermal load and power requirements for the site.

“This should also help drive a swap out of the older, less efficient technology from both AMD and Intel, as well as older UNIX mainframe and mid-range products that are not power or heat efficient to new products that can do more, but without increasing the heat or power requirements and possibly reduce them,” he remarked.

Overall this is a signal for change, and change generally means good revenue for the channel if the players can position themselves to take advantage of it, Enderle added.

“Green is also the color of money, at least here in the U.S.,” he quipped.

A processor that throws off less heat is easier to package and requires less ancillaries, Shiau said.

“All other things being equal, a processor that consumes less power is going to reduce data center costs compared to one that consumes more,” he said. “If energy costs were inconsequential you could bet it wouldn’t be an issue.

“Marketing people and what’s in vogue; it all goes hand-in-hand.”

The goal is absolutely about finding solutions for customers who are facing increased electricity costs, said Bill Calder, spokesperson for Intel in Hillsboro, Ore.

“This is particularly acute in today’s data centers. The growing number and density of servers has made electricity costs a significant factor in IT purchases,” he said. “With products like the Intel Xeon 5300 series we offer both incredible performance and energy efficiency — the best of both worlds. As such, it is not about latching on to any particular movement as much as it is offering customers the right choices that meet their needs to lower overall cost and still have outstanding performance with the latest server technology.”

Of the new quad core chips, Intel’s Xeon L5320 runs at 1.86 GHz and the L5310 runs at 1.60 GHz and features 8MB on die cache for faster memory data communication and run on dedicated 1066 MHz front side buses. Servers based on the new low-power, quad-core processors are designed for dense data centers, blade servers, and industries such as financial services where the scale and density of servers are highly sensitive to power, real estate and cooling costs, the company said.

Intel said its’ Tier 1 server vendors would build solutions with the new Xeon chips in the coming months. Acer, Dell, Digital Henge, Fujitsu-Siemens, Hewlett-Packard, HCL, IBM Corp., Samsung, Verari and Wipro are all expected to announce plans to do so. Milpitas, Calif.-based Rackable Systems Inc., a server and storage products provider, did so recently when it unveiled plans to deploy servers featuring the L5320 and L5310 via unique server designs and delivered fully racked and cabled.

“Our newest low wattage servers demonstrate our ongoing commitment to green technology and reducing data center operational expenses,” said Giovanni Coglitore, CTO, Rackable Systems, in a statement. “With Intel’s new 50-watt quad core processors inside Rackable Systems’ thermally efficient servers, we can meet companies’ computing needs while effectively managing skyrocketing energy costs.”

Officials said the quad core Intel Xeon L5320 is priced at US$519 in quantities of 1,000. The Intel Xeon L5310 is priced at $455.

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2 Comments

  1. David Smit says:

    Intel is likely to come out ahead in the quad core race against AMD, but I don’t believe it will be due to the reason they are aiming for, that being lower power consumption. In many opinions (mine included) AMDs chips are superior to Intels chips for many reasons, mainly the speed factor. Intels quad core chips are running at 1.86 GHz 1.60 GHz, while AMDs plans to run between 1.9GHz and 2.3GHz. Intel will come out ahead because of their earlier release date and their vastly superior marketing efforts.

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