It wasn’t out when I looked before work this morning, but by the time I got home and got the laptop back out, the news was fully distributed. Intel’s Xeon 5500 series processor, the follow-on to Harpertown, the latest Core i7 processor, that’s right — Nehalem-EP — is out of the closet.
The new enterprise-class chips can automatically adjust to specified energy usage levels, and speed data center transactions and customer database queries. They also will play a key role in scientific discoveries by researchers who use supercomputers as their foundation for research, all whilst delivering great energy efficiency for reduced electricity costs.
The are many things to like about this processor for intensive computing, including the dramatically increased bandwidth to memory and Intel’s QuickPath Interconnect (the return salvo for AMD’s HyperTransport). The (many, many) vendors who also announced new products today are claiming anywhere from 2 to 4 times speedup on applications — especially those apps that were previously memory bound — from the 5400s to the 5500s, even though the clocks aren’t that different. Of course your mileage may vary.
With over 30 new world records the Intel Xeon processor 5500 series establishes new standards for two-socket performance while delivering gains of more than double the previous- generation Intel Xeon processor 5400 series.
…Cisco delivered an outstanding result on SPEComp*Mbase2001, a high performance computing benchmark which helps evaluate performance of OpenMP applications, that was 154 percent better than previous generation 5400 series.
Intel’s 5500 landing page has more detail. An interesting feature of the chips that many seem to be taking advantage of is the advanced power management features. On HP’s new G6 lineup of ProLiant servers, for example, you can set a per processor power cap that you won’t allow the system to exceed. Why do this in HPC? Well you can put these processors in an existing datacenter that you’re “pretty sure” can handle the load without worrying about exceeding the design point for the facility — you just set the cap where you need it to keep from tripping breakers, and run worry free (of course, monitoring power usage to make sure things are behaving as expected).
There are also component improvements
Intel is also announcing new server boards that offer a higher degree of integrated components. In addition, the company is announcing the Intel 82599 10 Gigabit Ethernet Controller, featuring advanced virtualization technology and unified networking support, which greatly improves network I/O performance in virtualized datacenters. It is optimized to support the increased bandwidth provided by platforms based on the Intel Xeon processor 5500 series, which provides more than 250 percent the I/O throughput of previous-generation servers to best meet the needs of the most demanding virtualization applications.
Some of the vendor products announced today sporting the Nehalem-EP take advantage of the new virtualization and network features to enable users to start efficiently dedicating bandwidth to cores.
Who’s on deck with new products? Well, everyone, but let’s point to a sampling of HPC vendors and their press announcements