Intel goes green with new low-power Xeon chips

Announcement a warm-up to 6-core Dunnington processors, expected to be unveiled later this month.

Just weeks before Intel is expected launch its six-core Dunnington processors, the company Monday unveiled four new Xeon chips.

The chipmaker Monday announced that it's expanding its 45 nanometer (nm) chip family with the new server chips.

While the chips are designed to be energy efficient, they're also the first processors that Intel has shipped using halogen-free, fire retardant packaging materials. Halogen can be difficult to recycle and contains toxins. Intel is taking a big "green step" by moving to stop its use of halogens for all of its products by the beginning of the next year.

"There are lots and lots of harmful chemicals used in the process anyway. It's always good to eliminate one," said Dan Olds, an analyst with the Gabriel Consulting Group. "They're also energy efficient, but maybe more important, they are providing better performance for the less energy usage -- both electricity to power and cool the chip - and that's the real proof in the pudding."

The processors are drop-in compatible with Intel's existing dual-core processor platforms.

The new Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor 5400 Series is made up of the new X5492, the X5470 and the L5430 processors. According to Intel, the low-voltage version uses 50 watts of power, or 12.5 watts per core. The new Dual-Core Intel Xeon Processor X5270 can run at 80 watts with frequencies as high as 3.5 GHz, Intel reported.

"This is important news, particularly since the trend in enterprises is pack more systems and chips into smaller spaces," said Olds. "With the lower-energy needs of these new chips, vendors will be able to pack in much more computing power per square foot of data center floor space."

Monday's announcement is just a warm-up for what the chipmaker is planning for later this month.

Intel is slated to unveil the first 6-core Xeon processor for expandable servers before the end of September. Dubbed Dunnington, the Xeon processor X7460 will also be built with Intel's new 45nm Penryn technology, according to Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's digital enterprise group.

Moving beyond quad-core processors, which to date have been the high watermark in the semiconductor industry, is a major step -- one that keeps Intel well ahead of rival Advanced Micro Devices, according to Dan Olds, an analyst at the Gabriel Consulting Group.

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