Intel's next big leap, its six-core chip, set for release

Intel's Xeon 7400 chip takes aim at virtualization

Intel is expected to release its six-core Xeon 7400 chip Monday, just as VMware's big annual show begins in Las Vegas. And the timing is no coincidence.

Intel's chip is aimed at users seeking a consolidation and virtualization server platform, analysts say. Moving multiple virtual machines (VMs) to a six-core chip will improve management of virtual as well as physical systems. Consolidating physical servers to a single, presumably energy efficient system, may help users tight on data center space.

Intel isn't alone in picking VMware's conference to release its chip. Over the next week, vendors will be making numerous hardware announcements all designed with virtualization in mind. As virtualization use expands in data centers, so does the need for server hardware with added processing capability, memory and networking connections.

Vendors will announce over the next week products tuned for virtualization, integration with virtualization platforms, and new services to support deployment.

Dell, for instance, today announced new PowerEdge blade servers, including the M905 four socket, dual- or quad-core Advance Micro Devices, chips, it says can support 66 virtual machines. The system can support Citrix XenServer, VMware and Microsoft's Hyper-V. The company announced new storage and services as well.

In describing Intel's six-core chip, code-named Dunnington, at the Intel Developers Forum last month, Pat Gelsinger, Intel executive vice president, cited a number of workloads for it, including database, ERP, Java-based and virtualization.

AMD is also working on a six-core chip, code-named Istanbul, which is due out in the second half of next year.

Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight 64, said the six-core system is a niche product intended for large applications such as such as transaction-oriented workloads and databases that already use multithreaded environments and virtualization.

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