Intel to ship 10-core Xeon processor in first half

Intel is targeting the Westmere-EX processor at servers with two, four and eight sockets

An Intel spokesman on Thursday said its upcoming 10-core Xeon processor, code-named Westmere-EX, will reach servers in the first half of this year.

The chip will succeed Intel's fastest server chip, code-named Nehalem-EX, which was released last year and includes up to eight processor cores. The company declined to comment on clock speed, but with more cores and improved latency, the Westmere-EX processor will be faster than Nehalem-EX.

The Westmere-EX chip will be targeted at high-end servers in data centers running applications such as databases. The chip will run in servers with up to eight sockets, and each physical core will be able to run two threads, giving servers the capability to run 160 threads simultaneously.

The chip will also be socket-compatible with existing Nehalem-EX chips, which should make it easier for customers to upgrade servers. Two-socket systems running on Westmere-EX chips will support up to 2TB of memory, the company has said.

Intel competes in the server chip space with Advanced Micro Devices, which in the third quarter will start shipping a 16-core Opteron processor code-named Interlagos, which is based on the new Bulldozer architecture.

The 10-core Xeon chip will be made using the 32-nanometer manufacturing process, an improvement from the Nehalem-EX chip, which is made using the 45-nm process. The chip is based on the Westmere architecture, which is a manufacturing refresh of the older Nehalem microarchitecture.

The first Westmere chips shipped early last year for laptops and desktops, and server chips based on the architecture followed shortly after. Intel earlier released PC chips based on its latest Sandy Bridge microarchitecture. Server chips based on the Sandy Bridge architecture are not yet available.

The Westmere architecture includes some new security features such as AES-NI (Advanced Encryption Standard-New Instructions) for faster encryption and decryption of data. The feature could help secure data in virtualized environments.

Intel originally detailed many features of the Westmere-EX chip at the Hot Chips conference in Stanford, California, last year.

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