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Intel Pushes Back with Xeon 5100 140

conq writes "BusinessWeek has a piece on Intel's newest chip, the Xeon 5100, which many consider might be the chip that will llow them to stop losing ground to AMD. From the article: 'During the presentation, Intel ran the now-standard comparison test against AMD's highest performing chip, handily beating the system in a speed test. And in a jab at AMD execs, who handed kill-o-watt meters to analysts at the outfit's recent technology day, Intel execs used the same device to measure the new Xeon 5100 system's performance — gauged to be 7 watts better than that of the AMD-based system.'"
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Intel Pushes Back with Xeon 5100

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  • by skogs (628589) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:11PM (#15630157) Journal
    Intel's products have been worthless for almost 2 full years now. Interestingly, they've been hyping this chip and it's arrival for just about as long. It is a very well documented (and propogandized) release of a superior product.

    Toms Hardware has a review of the New Intel Chips. [tomshardware.com] I know, the page came out a few days ago, but the information is the same, and much of it has been available for many months.

    Toms also has the AMD AM2 Socket [tomshardware.com] and the incremental upgrades on the other side of the house.

  • by Fortun L'Escrot (750434) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:17PM (#15630222)
    from the article (and missing from the summary):
    That said, the results are skewed by the fact that Intel is producing chips using the 65-nanometer process, vs. AMD's 90-nanometer process. Typically, as more chips are packed onto smaller dies, performance improves dramatically. AMD is not scheduled to begin building chips on a 65-nanometer process until later this year.
    and finally the really important bit:
    "This is going to make AMD's life more difficult than it has been in the last two years," says analyst Nathan Brookwood, head of Insight64, a Saratoga (Calif.) consultancy. "If AMD can respond to this within a relevant time frame, the customers it has recently won may stick with it. If it can't respond with something that can provide the same level of performance and excitement, it could be very problematic."
    besides intel's new server chip, what is really going on is summarized here:
    "NOT JUST ABOUT THE CHIP." In negotiations with big-name customers, Intel also appears prepared to make price concessions to win more system designs than AMD. That sets the stage for what could turn into an all-out price war. "These chips tend to have high price tags and high margins," says Mercury's McCarron. "This is going to change the pricing dynamics. We simply haven't seen server chips sold below a few hundred dollars a unit, but now we're seeing them sold at less than $150. It's a different world than it was a few years ago."
    while i am trying to help avoid any fanboyism that might follow, the above three paragraphs summarize the entire article quite nicely. enjoy.
  • Re:Duh (Score:3, Informative)

    by vivek7006 (585218) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:56PM (#15630656) Homepage
    A mere 7 watt advantage at the wall despite having started their 65nm transition earlier (AMD waits until they've figured out how to get mature yields before making a rapid switch to the next process node, very unlike Intel) tells me that Intel is going to get leapfrogged big-time in short order.

    Intel isn't getting leapfrogged anytime soon, as AMD is a full 1 year behind Intel in the 65nm race. Intel, on the otherhand will be leapfrogging AMD even firther as their 45nm ramp appears to be happening sooner than later http://www.neoseeker.com/news/story/4896/ [neoseeker.com]
  • by this great guy (922511) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @04:53PM (#15632039)

    Just to recap things, the Xeon 5100-series, aka "Woodcrest", is the very first released processor family that is based on the new 8th generation, Intel Core Microarchitecture, technically inspired from the 6th generation (PPro, PII, PIII), instead of the 7th generation (P4). As a side note, Intel has been using the "Core Solo" and "Core Duo" denominations for some processors but this is just a marketing usage of the term "Core", because such processors are NOT based on the Intel Core Microarchitecture. Anyway, Woodcrest is the first to represent this all-new Intel Core Microarchitecture that is supposed to save Intel from the very competitive K8 design (Opteron, Athlon64...).

    So, Woodcrest seems indeed to be a very good processor, as shown in this preview [gamepc.com] (the less-biased, more technically accurate I have been able to find up to this day). Intel claims that Woodcrest is "80% more performant at 35% less power" compared to the original dual-core Xeon processor, and most benchmarks seem to confirm this claim. It may seem technically impressive, but in fact considering the very poor design of the original dual-core Xeon processor, such an improvement HAD to be expected and was almost a prerequisite for Intel to even start thinking about taking back Opteron's market share.

    Here is a quick fact list I have assembled from my own research and from the review linked above:

    At equal clock frequencies, Woodcrest is about 5-15% more powerful than Opteron on traditional workloads (common x86 and arithmetic instructions), and much more powerful (30% and more) than Opteron on multimedia workloads (mostly SSE, SSE2, maybe FPU I am not sure).

    At equal clock frequencies, Opteron is still much more powerful (30% and more) than Woodcrest on memory-intensive workloads due to its integrated memory controller (leading to better latency) and ccHT links in SMP cases (where memory throughput increases with the number of ccHT links).

    At equal clock frequencies, Woodcrest consumes less power than Opteron, but Woodcrest's memory (FB-DIMM) requires more power than Opteron's memory (DDR400). So overall, a Woodcrest-based system consumes about as much power as an Opteron-based system (as shown in page 3 of the review).

    At equal clock frequencies, Woodcrest is cheaper than Opteron, but Woodcrest motherboards (socket 771) are more expensive than Opteron motherboards (socket 939 and 940) and FB-DIMM memory is twice the price of DDR400. These pricing differences are so large that Opteron is still preferable to Woodcrest in most cases: Opteron is cheaper for any single or dual-cpu server config with 4 GB or more of memory, Opteron is cheaper for any entry-level server config (about $1500 and below) whatever the amount of memory is, Woodcrest seems to only make sense when the high-end processors (Xeon 5140, 5150 and 5160) are used with NO MORE than 4 GB of memory (else Opteron's cheaper memory has a price advantage).

    Of course, in the high-end server market (4, 8 or more processors), Opteron is still the clear technical leader because Intel STILL hasn't switched to a CPU interconnect similar to HT and STILL isn't using an integrated memory controller.

    In conclusion, I would say that when comparing only the processors, Woodcrest is superior to Opteron in many aspects (such as instruction throughput), and Opteron beats Woodcrest in other aspects (such as memory accesses). But when comparing a whole Woodcrest-based system versus an Opteron-based system, other factors come into play (such as price and scalibility), which make Opteron superior to Woodcrest in a lot of cases.

"There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them" - Heisenberg