Intel Workshop - October 2005
Posted on: 10/10/2005 05:00 AM

Independant Cores

Intel's current line of dual-core desktop processors, the Pentium D (or "Smithfield") uses two adjoining cores from the same wafer. This approach inherently limits processor yields as it requires two good adjoining cores in a row on the wafer. For the newer multi-core processors, Intel has refined their approach by using ANY two cores on the wafer for a single processor package. This concept is a little hard to explain but luckily they have provided us a nice picture that really simplifies things:

Intel hasn't completely switched away from the current method (yet), but you can see how the added flexability of this approach will enable higher yeilds for multi-core processors moving forward. That can only mean good things for Intel from a manufacturing standpoint, which ultimately means good things for all of us as consumers.

Today: "Paxville"

Intel announced today that they have started shipping their first multi-core server platforms. The first of these new Xeons, codename "Paxville", is a dual-core processor with hyperthreading (for each core) and 2mb of cache per core designed for two socket systems. Initial clock speeds for the DP part will be 2.8ghz, but don't let the clock-speed fool you. Here is quote from today's press release (linked above):
The new dual-core Intel Xeon processor runs at 2.80 GHz with an 800 MHz system bus and 2 MB of Level 2 cache per core and will use the IntelĘ E7520 chipset. Since each core is equipped with its own cache, the amount of traffic on the system bus is reduced and each core has faster access to data. Other features include IntelĘ EM64T, HT technology, Execute Disable Bit, and Demand Based Switching. Servers based on these processors are well suited for applications such as web server, infrastructure and email.
This particular processor has been heatedly discussed in our forums due to its rumored "drop-in" compatability with current E7520 motherboards. Unfortunately, this may or may not be the case depending on the manufacturer and age of your motherboard. We were informed that there are two or three extra pins on the E7520 to enable support for multi-core and while some existing platforms and motherboards will support "Paxville" with a simple BIOS flash, others will not. Ever. It all depends on who made your motherboard, when they made it, and if they connected those few extra pins.

You may be asking yourself why you would want to upgrade to "Paxville" today when "Dempsey" is only ~6 months away. That is a valid point but, while we can't post "Paxville" performance data (because we haven't run any tests ourselves), Intel did show us some compelling numbers. "Paxville" at 2.8ghz is giving performance boosts to the tune of 1.5x in some apps, compared to a 3.6ghz "Nocona" system. Those are pretty big gains, and we all know that you can't always put off your server purchases for another 6 months.

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