Dell has unveiled its first round of systems that support Intel’s new quad-core Xeon (Clovertown) processor. The new systems are basically just upgrades to the existing PowerEdge rackmount and tower server line, as well as upgrades to two Precision workstation models. The new systems use the Blackford chipset, so they’re able to take the forthcoming quad-core Clovertown as a drop-in replacement for the existing dual-core Xeons.
The systems being upgraded with Clovertown support are as follows:
PowerEdge 1900: A dual-socket tower serverPowerEdge 1950: A dual-socket rackmount serverPowerEdge 2900: A dual-socket 5U rackmount or tower server PowerEdge 2950: A dual-socket 2U rackmount serverPrecision 490: A dual-socket workstationPrecision 690: A dual-socket workstation
The Dell announcement highlights the latest move by Intel to stop some of AMD’s momentum in the server market. Right now, if you want a four-core Opteron system, you have to spring for a two-socket solution. This will remain the case until AMD comes out with its own quad-core part in the first half of 2007. Even if some would (justifiably) dispute Clovertown’s status as a legitimate quad-core part (it’s two dual-core chips sandwiched together in the same package), this gives the current lead in the n-core race that has replaced the “megahertz race” of the first decades of the PC era.
If you’re using older dual-core Xeon servers based on obsolete Netburst architecture (i.e. Dempsey, the server counterpart to Smithfield), then you’re going to want to jump on the Clovertown/Woodcrest bandwagon as soon as possible. Real World Technologies recently benchmarked identically configured Xeon 5070 (dual-core, Netburst-based) processors against the newer Xeon 5160 (dual-core, Woodcrest-based) processors and found that the Woodcrest part offers a 2.2X performance/watt improvement over its predecessor.
Doubling performance per watt is a pretty significant feat, especially when you’re talking about rackmount equipment that’s packed into a power-hungry server closet. These kinds of numbers will make the new Dell systems compelling to anyone who has been itching to get rid of old Netburst hardware.