Intel and AMD begin server war dance

Istanbul vs Nehalem EX vs Tukwila


Intel and Advanced Micro Devices are gearing up to take each other on in the server racket and are apparently readying some major announcements.

This week, Intel passed around an invite to the IT trade press for a briefing on May 26 to talk about "the next evolution in high-end server architecture." Which could mean just about anything, really.

But the Intel announcement is very likely to concern the quad-core "Tukwila" Itanium processor, which was expected to be in the field late last year and then earlier this year only to be delayed yet again to sometime in the middle of this year. If this is indeed the Tukwila launch, as you would guess from context as Intel is saying that the new server "raises the standard in cost-effective RISC replacement solutions," then Tukwila could appear a little earlier than its latest revised schedule might have indicated. That said, it will still be late.

There's some talk over at CNET that Intel is going to launch the eight-core "Nehalem EX" Xeon 7500 processor for four-socket and larger machines, the big brother to the quad-core "Nehalem EP" Xeon 5500 processors that were launched at the end of March to much fanfare. But there is nothing in the Intel invite that confirms the event is about either Tukwila or Nehalem EX.

In any event, both Nehalem chips, as well as their desktop baby brother, the Core i7, and the Tukwila Itaniums all sport lots of performance improvements thanks to integrated memory controllers, QuickPath Interconnect, and lots of energy management and virtualization features to boot. While Intel has been cagey about when the Nehalem EX chips would ship, saying in its roadmaps in February only that the Nehalem EX chips were "targeted for production in 2H'09," there has been talk that in recent months that the Nehalem EX chips might not ship until late 2009 or early 2010.

In its Dynamic Cube BX900 blade server announcement last week, Fujitsu said it did not expect to get the Nehalem EX chips into its four-socket BX960 S1 blade until the first quarter of 2010. That might mean Fujitsu is taking its time to qualify Nehalem EXs. Or it may be confirmation that Nehalem EX chips are not going to be ready until later than expected.

It could be, of course, that the timing of the Nehalem EX launch had more to do with when AMD was expected to get its six-core "Istanbul" Opteron into the field. When Intel roadmaps indicated that would be at the end of the year, which was certainly the case back in February when Intel was showing off its roadmaps, it was no big deal. The current quad-core and hex-core "Dunnington" Xeon 7400s can compete, more or less, with AMD's current quad-core "Shanghai" Opterons. But with AMD saying three weeks ago that it was pulling its Istanbul six-shooter Opteron forward with shipments to OEMs for revenue happening in May and server partners expected to make announcements in June, it is possible - and maybe even likely - that Intel will try to get both the Nehalem EX and Tukwila chips into the field as soon as possible.

With the economy perhaps bottoming out, IT shops looking for the best bang for the buck, and chip fabs costing lots of dough just to keep the lights on, neither Intel nor AMD can afford to sit on major chip launches. And it looks like they are going to come out with their guns blazing in the next few weeks. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • AMD bests Intel in cloud CPU performance study
    Overall price-performance in Big 3 hyperscalers a dead heat, says CockroachDB

    AMD's processors have come out on top in terms of cloud CPU performance across AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, according to a recently published study.

    The multi-core x86-64 microprocessors Milan and Rome and beat Intel Cascade Lake and Ice Lake instances in tests of performance in the three most popular cloud providers, research from database company CockroachDB found.

    Using the CoreMark version 1.0 benchmark – which can be limited to run on a single vCPU or execute workloads on multiple vCPUs – the researchers showed AMD's Milan processors outperformed those of Intel in many cases, and at worst statistically tied with Intel's latest-gen Ice Lake processors across both the OLTP and CPU benchmarks.

    Continue reading
  • Intel says Sapphire Rapids CPU delay will help AMD catch up
    Our window to have leading server chips again is narrowing, exec admits

    While Intel has bagged Nvidia as a marquee customer for its next-generation Xeon Scalable processor, the x86 giant has admitted that a broader rollout of the server chip has been delayed to later this year.

    Sandra Rivera, Intel's datacenter boss, confirmed the delay of the Xeon processor, code-named Sapphire Rapids, in a Tuesday panel discussion at the BofA Securities 2022 Global Technology Conference. Earlier that day at the same event, Nvidia's CEO disclosed that the GPU giant would use Sapphire Rapids, and not AMD's upcoming Genoa chip, for its flagship DGX H100 system, a reversal from its last-generation machine.

    Intel has been hyping up Sapphire Rapids as a next-generation Xeon CPU that will help the chipmaker become more competitive after falling behind AMD in technology over the past few years. In fact, Intel hopes it will beat AMD's next-generation Epyc chip, Genoa, to the market with industry-first support for new technologies such as DDR5, PCIe Gen 5 and Compute Express Link.

    Continue reading
  • AMD to end Threadripper Pro 5000 drought for non-Lenovo PCs
    As the House of Zen kills off consumer-friendly non-Pro TR chips

    A drought of AMD's latest Threadripper workstation processors is finally coming to an end for PC makers who faced shortages earlier this year all while Hong Kong giant Lenovo enjoyed an exclusive supply of the chips.

    AMD announced on Monday it will expand availability of its Ryzen Threadripper Pro 5000 CPUs to "leading" system integrators in July and to DIY builders through retailers later this year. This announcement came nearly two weeks after Dell announced it would release a workstation with Threadripper Pro 5000 in the summer.

    The coming wave of Threadripper Pro 5000 workstations will mark an end to the exclusivity window Lenovo had with the high-performance chips since they launched in April.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022