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IBM, Dell, HP adopt Intel 6-core chip for IT, games

Both server and game box suppliers are deploying Intel's 6-core processor.

Intel officially introduced its 6-core processor on Tuesday and both server and game box suppliers are deploying the chip, boasting more speed for gamers and better cost-efficiency for IT departments.

As previously reported, the Core i7- 980X desktop processor, aka the Xeon 5600 for servers, is based on Intel's newest 32-nanometer process technology. Generally, the smaller the manufacturing process, the better the performance. To date, most Intel processors have used "fatter" 45-nanometer technology. More processing cores--six versus the prior generation's four--can also hike performance.

"We've already shipped hundreds of thousands of these (processors). We build up the supply chain (beforehand)," said Boyd Davis, general manager for Server Platforms Group Marketing at Intel. Prices for the 6-core processors range from $999 for the Core i7 980 to $1,663 for the Xeon 5680.

For server customers, the message from Intel is more bang for the buck. "Eighty percent of the (server) installed base is up for a refresh. And the installed base is a lot of old, inefficient, single-core servers," said Davis.

"Take 15 old single-core servers and replace them with a single server based on the Xeon 5600. You get roughly the same performance level and a 95 percent reduction in energy costs. As well as getting a payback in as little as five months," he said.

Intel 32-nanometer 6-core chip: marketed as both the Core i7 980 and Xeon 5600
Intel 32-nanometer 6-core chip: marketed as both the Core i7 980 and Xeon 5600 Intel

Intel has also added security. AES-NI, or Advanced Encryption Standard New Instruction, is a technology for improving security by increasing encryption performance. On older chips, encryption processing could bog down a system, AES is more efficient at handling these workloads, according to Davis.

Dell is one of the first major vendors to begin selling servers and workstations with the Xeon 5600. Dell on Tuesday is introducing nine PowerEdge blade, rack-mount, and tower servers, and three Dell Precision tower workstations updated with the new Intel Xeon 5600.

Hewlett-Packard HPE-180t tower: adding the new Core i7-980x adds $810 over the standard Core i7-930
Hewlett-Packard HPE-180t tower: adding the new Core i7-980x adds $810 over the standard Core i7-930 Hewlett-Packard

The new Dell servers include two blade servers (M710, M610), four rack servers, (R710, R610, R510, R410) and three tower servers (T710, T610, T410).

IBM on Tuesday unveiled new System x servers based on the Xeon 5600, delivering 50 percent more (processing) cores and 40 percent to 60 percent better performance than previous generations. The new System x M3 and Blade Center systems include two new rack servers, the x3650 M3 and the x3550 M3, two new enterprise tower servers, the x3500 M3 and x3400 M3--the latter feature twice the storage capacity of previous generations and lower power and facilities costs.

Other IBM systems include the BladeCenter HS22 and the virtualization-optimized BladeCenter HS22V, which allows clients to fit between 30 percent and 50 percent more virtual machines on a single blade server, IBM said.

On the gaming front, Hewlett-Packard is making its HPE-180t Pavilion tower available with the Core i7 980x. Buyer beware: a consumer can buy a respectable midrange gaming system for the price of the new chip alone. On the HPE-180t, the 980x adds $810 to the cost of the system.

Dell is also updating its XPS 9000, a multimedia desktop PC, with the 980x. And Dell's Alienware unit is adding the 980x to its Area-51 and Area-51 ALX systems.