Several weeks ago, when Intel announced its 64-bit extensions to the Xeon family of processors, the company said that it had delivered a boosted Xeon DP processor and two more variations on the “Presontia” theme.
These announcements got lost in the shuffle, so Intel will be talking about these processors today as it delivers a new Gallatin Xeon MP processor for high-end servers with a larger 4MB L3 cache memory and a 3GHz clock speed. This is the end of the line for Gallatin, which will be followed by the Potomac 64-bit Xeons in early 2005.
These peppier Gallatins will plug right into any machine that currently uses this family of Xeon MP processors. This includes four-way machines made by the big tier one suppliers – Hewlett-Packard Co, Dell Inc, IBM Corp, and Fujitsu Siemens – as well as white box vendors who compete vigorously for business in the midrange X86 server market. These Xeon MP are also used in machines that couple 8, 16, or 32 processors together in a giant SMP cluster. They are not used in smaller two-way or uniprocessor machines, which have their own Xeon DP and Pentium 4 variants that run faster and offer better bang for the buck.
According to Alan Priestly, strategic marketing manager for Intel in the UK, Intel does not have any plans to add new Gallatin processors to the Xeon line in 2004 beyond the three processors that are being announced today. This is because it takes a long time to ramp up production processes on the Xeon MP chips, which are among the largest chips that Intel makes, and because the qualification processes that vendors go through take a long time because of the complexity of the midrange and enterprise machines that use them compared to entry servers that use Xeon DPs. That is why, says Priestly, the Xeon MP product launches tend to be on a six-to-nine month cycle. And knowing that Gallatin is the last of its line and that cycle time on launches, we now know that Intel is shooting for the Potomac kicker to Gallatin in early 2005.
In any event, there are three new Gallatins, which all have 400MHz front side buses like the other Gallatin and Foster Xeon MPs. (Foster was the original Pentium 4 Xeon chip for high end servers.) The new 3GHz/4MB L3 cache Gallatin replaces the 2.8GHz/2MB cache Gallatin, and has the same list price at $3,692 each in 1,000-unit quantities. Intel is also announcing a 2.7GHz/2MB part, which at $1,980 each in 1,000-unit quantities is half the price of the 2.8GHz/2MB part. A new 2.2GHz/2MB part costs $1,177, less than a third the price of the 2.0GHz/2MB Xeon MP that was the top-end machine 18 months ago. While the performance boost is always a welcome thing at the high end of the Xeon MP range, the price/performance increases for slower chips is what makes Xeon MP processors affordable for a growing number of companies. At these prices, four-way computing with powerful machines is an option for companies who could not even have pondered it a few years ago.
This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire