Intel ships low-power chips for servers

New server chips from processor giant draw as little as 12.5 watts per core.

Intel is shipping new server processors that consume as little as 12.5 watts per core.

Cumulatively, the racks and racks of servers in large data centers can require power rivaling that consumed by entire city blocks. So, getting power consumption as low as possible while delivering adequate performance has become a delicate balancing act for Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.

New additions to the Xeon 5000 Series include the L5430 and X5270 processors, the fastest of which boasts a clock speed of 3.5GHz, Intel said.

The low-voltage L5430 uses only 50 watts of power or just 12.5 watts per core. The dual-core Xeon X5270 draws 80 watts, according to Intel.

"Much of the energy efficiency these new processors provide comes from Intel's...45 (nanometer) manufacturing capability and its reinvented transistors that use a Hafnium-based high-k metal gate formula," Intel said in a statement. Transistors with high-k metal gates can control current leakage better than those with silicon dioxide gates, which Intel had used in the past.

Not all processors, however, boast low power consumption. Intel will also ship high-performance versions with relatively high power consumption, including the X5492, which consumes 150 watts.

All of the new Xeon chips use packaging materials free of halogens, which can release toxins if incinerated. This is a goal Intel has set for all of its processors.

Vendors expected to bring out systems include Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Fujitsu-Siemens, Gigabyte, HP, IBM, Microstar, NEC, Quanta, Rackable Systems, Sun Microsystems, Supermicro, Tyan, and Verari Systems.

The processors are targeted at organizations using workstation and blade and mainstream servers, Intel said.

Pricing ranges from $562 for a quad-core Xeon L5430 (2.66GHz) to $1,493 for a quad-core Xeon X5492 (3.4GHz).

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