IBM, HP unveil multicore servers

The single-core processor is apparently all but history, as major server vendors Hewlett-Packard and IBM last week brought out new systems based on Intel's dual-core chips.

With the moves by IBM, HP and others to use the new chips, Intel is projecting that by the end of this year, 85 percent of all processor shipments from the company will be dual-core, a spokesman said.

The new multicore chips are already a key technology for some users.

For example, Austin Energy has already decided to limit server purchases to multicore systems, said CIO Andres Carvallo.

"Multicore servers are key in n-tier environments," where applications are distributed among separate computers, such as one for a database and another for business logic, Carvallo said. He noted that the Java language and Oracle database are multithreaded environments. "The more cores you have, the better [the] performance," he said.

HP by late June will largely have dual-core capability across its entire set of two- and four-way servers, "from the least expensive all the way to the top end," said John Gromala, director of server product marketing. HP's remaining single-socket systems will be updated later this year with dual-core capabilities, he said.

Intel Xeon dual-core chips will also be the dominant processor in the new ProLiant and BladeSystem servers HP will ship next month.

HP said the Xeon-based systems will triple the performance of the new systems -- not only because of the processors but also as a result of a redesign of the subsystems, including memory, storage and management controllers, to support the new technology.

Meanwhile, IBM announced plans to start shipping three new System x servers running Intel's dual-core chips in June.

Intel's dual-core processors include the low-end Xeon dual-core 5000 series of chips, code-named Dempsey, and high-end systems that will be based on the Xeon 5160 processor, or Woodcrest, which has about 3.1 times the performance of the single-core Xeon processor.

Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at IT research firm Illuminata, said dual-core systems deliver a performance boost because they can handle multithreaded applications, which can be bandwidth-intensive.

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