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IBM to release quad-core Intel servers

Big Blue next week will begin selling its first servers with quad-core processors, using Intel's "Clovertown" Xeon 5300 models.

IBM next week will begin selling its first servers with quad-core processors, utilizing Intel's "Clovertown" Xeon 5300 models.

The company announced five models, each with two processor sockets, and promised a significant performance increase over those systems with the dual-core Xeon 5100 "Woodcrest" processors. In the case of the x3650, an integer-processing speed test yielded 64 percent better performance with the quad-core processors than with dual-core, IBM said.

IBM will begin taking orders for the quad-core systems on Tuesday, but volume shipments won't begin until December for the x3650 and a slimmer sibling, the x3550, IBM said. The other models will become generally available in January.

Dell began selling its quad-core servers Wednesday.

Quad-core processors have four processing engines; Intel's Xeon 5300 consist of two Woodcrest chips in a single package. Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices prefers to put all four cores on a single slice of silicon, but its first quad-core Opteron chips, code-named , won't arrive until mid-2007.

Earlier this year, Intel introduced its "Bensley" dual-processor server platform, which combines various processors with an Intel chipset. Bensley-based systems can be upgraded with the Clovertown chips, though using high-end chips will mean an increase in both electrical power consumption and waste heat compared with Woodcrest.

Future dual-core and quad-core chips built with an upcoming 45-nanometer manufacturing process will also , Intel has said.

IBM's new servers include the following:

• The x3650, a 3.5-inch-thick rack-mounted machine with a starting price of $2,419.

• The x3550, a 1.75-inch-thick rack-mounted machine with a starting price of $2,369.

• The x3500 and x3400 servers are free-standing tower models with starting prices of $2,189 and $3,049, respectively.

• The HS21 is a blade server with a starting price of $3,049.