Intel previews 8-core Nehalem-EX

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Yesterday Intel previewed its next processor, Nehalem-EX, aimed specifically at the high end. The new chip will be “in production later this year” and will feature 8 cores and 16 threads. These are the chips formerly codenamed “Beckton” if you can keep up with Intel’s nutty naming scheme.

Intel logoIdeal for server consolidation, virtualized applications, data demanding enterprise applications and technical computing environments, Nehalem-EX will offer up to nine times the memory bandwidth1 of the previous-generation Intel Xeon 7400 platform. Nehalem-EX will also double the memory capacity with up to 16 memory slots per processor socket, and offer four high-bandwidth QuickPath Interconnect links. Nehalem-EX will provide tremendous scalability, from large-memory two-socket systems through eight-socket systems capable of processing 128 threads simultaneously without the need for third-party chips to “glue” the platform together. Additional scalability options including greater sockets counts will be possible with third-party solutions.

Intel is actually hawking news on this chip early. The release is carefully worded to say that the new chips will be “in production” later this year. But OEMs won’t be able to build systems with the chips until 2010, well behind AMD’s new 6-core Istanbul set to launch next quarter.

The new chip will  incorporate some of the RAS features found in its Itanium cousin

Nehalem-EX will add new reliability, availability and serviceability (RAS) features traditionally found in the company’s Intel Itanium processor family, such as Machine Check Architecture (MCA) Recovery. Together with new levels of performance, both high-end processors should speed the move away from more expensive, proprietary RISC-processor based systems.

And from The Register’s coverage of the announcement

One of the other features that [Boyd Davis, general manager at Intel’s Server Platforms Group marketing] divulged as part of the Nehalem EX preview was something called machine check architecture (MCA) recovery, which predicts, detects, and corrects processor, memory, and I/O errors inside the Nehalem EX chip. The Itanium family of chips sport a similar MCA feature, and the Itanium bashers will see this as well as the performance delivered in the Nehalem EX chips as yet another reason why Intel should kill off the Itanium chips. (The quad-core “Tukwila” Itanium chips were pushed out to the first quarter of 2010 last week after being delayed a number of times).

The company is emphasizing the features of this processor that will help move customers away from RISC chips, which used to be the job of the Itanium. Perhaps Intel is final raising the axe on Itanium.