Intel Hints at Octa-Core CPUs this Year

In an interview with IDG, Intel's Shannon Poulin gave an update on when the company will ship its first octa-core processor--that's eight cores.

With the state of the economy in virtual shambles, the stark reality is that huge corporations are not only laying off employees left and right, but pulling back on advertisement spending and cutting cost in various ways. It's truly remarkable to see manufacturers continue on despite the financial instability, to stay on a path that may or may not bring financial success although the process may be a bit slower than usual.

Despite the drop in consumer spending, Intel maintains innovation, refusing to stagger in a difficult recession. Shannon Poulin, the Xeon platform director in Intel's Server Products Group, reaffirms Intel's determination by laying down a somewhat vague roadmap for the Xeon (Nehalem) EX release schedule. "What you'll get at the beginning of next year--late this year or the beginning of next year--will be the push into the four-socket, eight-socket, and above space," she told IDG News Services in an interview.

Poulin also reaffirmed that the recession has nothing to do with the Xeon EX schedule, noting that the company usually sees a lag between the two-socket and four-socket (and above) releases. Previously the "historic" low was seven to eight months in-between, with the largest gap lasting around a year and a half. She said the release of the Xeon EX falls "right in the middle," referring to the shipment of Nehalem-based Xeon chips back in March.

Intel's Nehalem EP, now available in Mac Pro workstations, is the latest line of x86 server chips designed for workstations and servers that consist of one or two processors, with up to four cores on a single processor. The Nehalem EX architecture takes the design one step further and supports servers with four or more processors. Not only will they have up to eight core on a single chip, but will feature support for Intel's QuickPath Interconnect technology and utilize an on-chip memory controller.

Earlier this year, the company revealed that the eight-core Xeon processor will feature a whopping 2.3 billion transistors, manufactured using the 45nm process. The Xeon EX will also utilize Intel's simultaneous multithreading technology that will support two simultaneous threads per core (although this may decrease performance by a meager percentage). The processor will also feature four point-to-point quick path interconnect links, and L3 cache consisting of eight sections that will be shared by all eight cores, allocated by a central hub router. The upcoming processor will also require a new platform with LGA-1567 sockets.

Unfortunately, at this point, there is a six month window planned for the Xeon EX release, starting around October 2009 until March 2010. That, of course, is subject to change, as the company has not released an official street date despite Poulin's predictions. When released, the octa-core Xeon will be the company's first, and most likely the flagship for some time to come. It will be exciting to see the Xeon EX processor in action. Unfortunately, the planned release is still a long ways away, so we'll just have to pacify ourselves with comic books and donuts until then.

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  • wild9
    Considering the growing popularity of GPGPU processing, is this such a wise move?
  • abby shah

    To be fair I disagree with this article. Most of the companies are delaying products they promised and then are holding begging bowls out to the government. Yet if they had a good product I would have bought it. The problem is they are trying to sell technology that is out of date as soon as they sell it. I don't want back lit LEDs, I want OLED or better. I don't want HDD, I want SSD, but not at a price where I have to sell my liver. I could go on but I better not....
  • tinnerdxp
    Absolutely agree with Abby Shah... Fortunately it's mostly Intel practicing it. Nvidia always compete with ATI so anything new is expensive just for a few months and then get cheaper. ATI does the same so the market is quite vivid in this area :) Intel on the other hand just multiplies everything in their products and whenever they feel AMD's breath on their backs they "release" something new (usually something old that is slightly tweaked just to be faster than AMD). AMD is the real innovator in the CPU market - they implement new technology and make it affordable to the people - Intel is on the other side of the bench - focused just to sell as much as possible... Pitty - but hey - these are recession times - right?