Intel rolls out new server, high-end PC chip lineup; Green arms race heats up

Intel has rolled out a new lineup of 16 server and high-end PC processors that sport a new transistor design that saves energy, eliminates lead and halogen materials.These chips were expected and Intel delivered right on schedule.

Intel has rolled out a new lineup of 16 server and high-end PC processors that sport a new transistor design that saves energy, eliminates lead and halogen materials.

These chips were expected and Intel delivered right on schedule. The chips, known as Penryn, is Intel's first to be designed on 45-nanometer manufacturing processes. Intel has positioned the chips as an "eco-friendly" lineup by saving energy, eliminating harmful materials and boosting performance.

In a statement, Intel called its transistor tweaks the biggest advancement in 40 years. It uses a formula called "Hafnium-based high-k metal gate" to cram hundreds of millions of processors--820 million or so--on a chip. The semiconductors are sold under the Intel Core 2 Extreme and Xeon brands.

Intel is hoping its new designs will clear the path for smaller chips that can lead more features in consumer and mobile electronics.

Here's a look at Intel's new lineup:

  • Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 quad core processor (just rolls off the tongue doesn't it?): This chip is designed for hardcore gamers. It features a larger L2 cache and support for Intel's SSE4 media instructions.
  • A family of server processors that Intel claims sets world record speeds. These 12 quad-core chips have clock speeds that range from 2GHz to 3.2 GHz. The chips are sold under the Xeon brand.

Also see Tom Krazit's take on the Penryn rollout.

As for the world speed record claim, Intel gives the following explanation (see Intel's summary):

 

The 45nm Hi-k Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor 5400 series sets a number of world records** on key industry-standard benchmarks. A HP Proliant DL380 G5 Server sets a new TPC-C* mark with a score of 273,666 tpmC and an SAP-SD* record with a score of 2449 SD-Users. A Dell PowerEdge* 2950 server running BEA JRockit* JVM delivered a record-breaking SPECjbb*2005 result of 303130** BOPS. Dell also sets a new virtualization performance record on VMmark benchmark running VMWare ESX Server with a score of 8.47 at 6 tiles. Using a PRIMERGY RX300 S4 Server, Fujitsu-Siemens set a new SPECint*_rate2006 record with a score of 138.

However, it's usually best to go right to the footnotes.

** World Record and other claims based on performance comparison of DP Server platforms based on x86 architecture. Intel does not control or audit the design or implementation of third-party benchmarks or Web sites referenced in this document. Intel encourages all of its customers to visit the referenced Web sites or others where similar performance benchmarks are reported and confirm whether the referenced benchmarks are accurate and reflect performance of systems available for purchase. Here's Intel's performance summary.

I'll leave the benchmark bickering to others--like David Berlind and George Ou--because there's a bigger picture here.

We are beginning to see an eco-friendly arms race in IT. AMD kicked it off with its energy per watt sales pitch and pushed power consumption to the forefront. Now technology firms are racing to be greener than the other guy. Notice how Intel notes lead removal and a greener--and faster--chip.

This development is promising as PC makers are pushing new form factors and most technology companies are on the green bandwagon. The upside for you: These green technologies can save you power. Yeah, the environment is swell, but your CFO will be more interested in the ROI. The CIO will soon exist to save money on energy.

In the long-run, the real game will be determining what you get as this arms race escalates. But it will take a careful eye to discern the ROI and the marketing spiel.