Intel Sets Up 'Tigerton' Xeon MPs Against Future Opterons
Published: July 24, 2007
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
With Advanced Micro Devices gearing up to deliver its "Barcelona" quad-core Opteron Rev F processors in August, rival Intel has no intention of making it easy for AMD to steal all the headlines or garner more extra sales among server customers. That's why Intel today leaked out some information about its future dual-core "Tigerton" Xeon MP processor and its related server platform.
The Xeon MP family of processors is designed to go into motherboards that support up to four processor sockets. These have been the high-end workhorses of the 32-bit X86 generations of processors, starting with the first four-way Xeon MPs back in 2002, which were also the first of Intel's server chips to sport an L3 cache memory to boost performance. As processors have moved to 64-bit memory addressing and to dual-core and then multi-core configurations, servers with only two sockets can now do as much work as a much bigger X86 box could do only a few years ago. This has created a tendency to drift downward in footprint sizes among certain server buyers, who can get by with a two-socket machine where a four-socket or eight-socket box might have been necessary in the past. However, the advent of server virtualization, which favors more powerful processors and larger main memories for server consolidation efforts, and the increasing popularity of 64-bit Windows and Linux servers for doing jobs that might have otherwise been done on RISC/Unix or proprietary servers, is causing a bit of a resurgence for high-end 64-bit machines such as those that will be built on the Tigerton processor.
Kirk Skaugen, one of the co-general managers for Intel's Server Products Group, confirmed in a video blog today that Tigerton would be coming out in the third quarter as the Xeon 7300 series, matched with the "Clarksboro" 7300 chipset. Skaugen said that the new quad-core Xeon 7300 chips would have about twice the performance as the existing "Tulsa" dual-core Xeon 7100s and would have over twice the performance per watt of these processors. The Tulsa chips are based on the Prior Pentium 4-style cores, while the Tigertons use the new energy-efficient Core architecture that Intel debuted last year. The Core architecture is largely responsible for the resurgence of Intel in the server and desktop markets in the past year, and it is what has closed the gap with AMD's Opteron alternative.
Just to rub it in, Skaugen said that Intel had been shipping Tigerton chips and Clarksboro chipsets in volume to its server OEM customers since June, and key end-user customers had "seed systems" in June as well so they could qualify the processors, chipsets, and servers ahead of volume shipments. Skaugen also said that the "Caneland" server platform, which is comprised of the Tigerton chip, the Clarksboro chipset, and other server features, was brought to market more quickly than any other Xeon MP system. The Tulsa chips only started shipping in August of last year, and because they were not energy efficient, were largely marginalized by server buys. This will not be the case with the Tigerton chips, which will give AMD's "Barcelona" Opteron 8000 series chips a run for the high-end server money.
Finally, just to pour a little salt into AMD's wounds since the Barcelona chips have been delayed by several months, Skaugen said that Intel would be able to crank up the clock speeds on the Tigerton chips 2.93 GHz in volumes as well as delivering a 50-watt, low-voltage version that will see quad-socket, 16-core blade servers coming to market from OEM customers for the first time. That is a lot of computing power to put on a single blade server.
Earlier in July, AMD said that the initial Barcelona Opteron processors would run at only 2 GHz. AMD will be under intense pressure to ramp up clock speeds with Tigerton in the market, but Intel has a huge lead in yields on 65 nanometer chip making processes.
Intel's Financials Strengthening, AMD Waiting for Barcelona Kick
AMD Sets 'Barcelona' Quad-Core Opteron Launch for August
X4 Chipset from IBM Tuned for Tigerton Quad Core Xeon MPs
Intel Delivers 'Tulsa' Xeon MP Server Chip Early
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