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Posted by Richard Fichera on March 6, 2012
Today, after two of its largest partners have already announced their systems portfolios that will use it, Intel finally announced one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry: the Xeon E5-2600 family of processors.
OK, now that I’ve got in my jab at the absurdity of the announcement scheduling, let’s look at the thing itself. In a nutshell, these new processors, based on the previous-generation 32 nm production process of the Xeon 5600 series but incorporating the new “Sandy Bridge” architecture, are, in fact, a big deal. They incorporate several architectural innovations and will bring major improvements in power efficiency and performance to servers. Highlights include:
The list of interesting technical features is long and can be extensively reviewed on Intel’s website, but the real issue is whether this is an upgrade that will have significant impact on users’ data centers and whether it is worth the cost and disruption of a system upgrade. Based on the system announcements to date from HP and Dell and my review of the details of the Intel specifications, my opinion is that this upgrade cycle of combined server and CPU is one of the most powerful in the last several years and offers some significant advantages for users, specifically in the areas of relieving data center capacity constraints:
In a nutshell, this is a major upgrade cycle, and one that should be in the plans for every I&O group. I would recommend that you get out your spreadsheets and look at the ROI for server refresh, possibly even ahead of a normal depreciation/refresh cycle because the numbers will be surprisingly good.
And next year we get to see the 22 nm process shrink of this new architecture …
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