DENVER Intel Corp. has beefed up the capabilities of servers based on dual-Xeon configurations with the launch of two versions of its long-anticipated Lindenhurst chip sets and a storage I/O processor. The Dobson processor links an Xscale core with PCI Express interfaces.
The intent is to provide a cost-effective alternative to 64-bit Itanium systems by using dual 3.6-GHz Xeon processors alongside peripheral chips that emphasize reliability and scaled performance.
The E7520 full-capability version of the chip set offers higher port density and support for memory mirroring; the cost-reduced E7320 version has fewer ports and no memory-mirroring support. Both offer PCI Express interfaces and work with the CPU to support a new intelligent power-management feature called demand-based switching. It enables the continual adjustment of voltage and frequency according to the level of bursty traffic encountered in server transactions. No changes in software applications are required for demand-based switching, said Phil Brace, director of enterprise product marketing, though the power switching must be supported in the operating system and BIOS..
The IOP332 storage I/O processor is a coprocessor optimized for RAID-access applications, since Intel said that was one of the server industry's most critical demands.
The chip sets help enhance the utility of the Xeon processor's new Extended Memory 64 technology. By allowing the Xeon to address more than 64 Gbytes of memory and run future 64-bit applications, Intel is giving OEMs a lower-cost alternative to native 64-bit processors.
The unexpected inroads Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has made into server environments with lower-cost alternatives to Itanium are one factor driving increased sophistication at the Xeon level, though Brace added that Intel still sees a clear distinction between mission-critical, fault-tolerant applications requiring Itanium and mainstream server environments that can use Xeon.
In 1,000-unit quantities, the E7320 peripheral chips sell for $70 each, the E7520 set for $84 each and the IOP332 storage I/O processor for $82 each.