Intel, IBM discuss 8-core 'Nehalem' server chip

In a Tuesday teleconference, Intel says it will ship a chip that contains up to eight processing cores, and IBM shows a server using eight such chips, yielding 64 cores.

Intel on Tuesday said it will ship a server chip that contains up to eight processing cores later this year, while IBM showed off a high-end server in the works that uses eight such chips, yielding 64 cores.

Intel's Nehalem-EX architecture supports up to eight processors and each processor can integrate up to eight cores.
Intel's Nehalem-EX architecture supports up to eight processors and each processor can integrate up to eight cores. Intel

Intel's Nehalem-EX processor, in production later this year and expected to be shipping in high-end server systems by early 2010, will feature up to eight cores inside a single chip that supports 16 threads, according to Boyd Davis, Intel's general manager of the Server Platforms Marketing Group, speaking at a teleconference on Tuesday.

Using threads, Intel essentially doubles the amount of work that can be done on each processing core.

IBM, which participated in the conference, discussed a server currently under development that uses 64 Nehalem-EX cores (eight processors) and can handle 128 threads, according to Alex Yost, vice president IBM BladeCenter. "We're very excited today to be the first to demonstrate Nehalem-EX," Yost said.

Nehalem-EX will also double the memory capacity with up to 16 memory slots per processor socket, and offer four high-bandwidth "QuickPath" Interconnect links.

Intel also said the currently-shipping Nehalem server chip is making market gains. Intel's currently-available Xeon 5500, the first server processor based on Intel's Nehalem architecture, will be "greater than half of shipments" for Intel's high-volume two-processor (aka, "two-socket") server shipments by August, according to Davis.

"Customer acceptance has been quite strong," Boyd said. "From an introduction at the very end of March to representing the majority of our shipments in the market for two-processor servers by the August time frame," he said.

Intel showed off a prototype server that can accommodate four eight-core Nehalem-EX processors.
Intel showed off a prototype server that can accommodate four eight-core Nehalem-EX processors. Stephen Shankland/CNET
Intel's prototype Nehalem-EX server accommodates eight of these memory cards. They'll use relatively conventional DDR3 memory rather than the FB-DIMM technology Intel's current Xeon 7300 systems.
Intel's prototype Nehalem-EX server accommodates eight of these memory cards. They'll use relatively conventional DDR3 memory rather than the FB-DIMM technology Intel's current Xeon 7300 systems. Stephen Shankland/CNET
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