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Upgrades Intel Hardware

8-Core Intel Nehalem-EX To Launch This Month 186

Posted by Soulskill
from the double-the-cores-for-only-twice-the-price dept.
MojoKid writes "What could you do with 8 physical cores of CPU processing power? Intel's upcoming 8-core Nehalem-EX is launching later this month, according to Intel Xeon Platform Director Shannon Poulin. The announcement puts to rest rumors that the 8-core part might be delayed, and makes good on a promise Intel made last year when the chip maker said it would release the chip in the first half of 2010. To quickly recap, Nehalem-EX boasts an extensive feature-set, including up to 8 cores per processor, up to 16 threads per processor with Intel Hyper-threading, scalability up to eight sockets via Intel's serial Quick Path Interconnect and more with third-party node controllers, and 24MB of shared cache."
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8-Core Intel Nehalem-EX To Launch This Month

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  • by suso (153703) * on Monday March 08, 2010 @05:29PM (#31405630) Homepage Journal

    Ah! My dream of the day when I can boot up and see penguins taking up the entire screen is almost here.

    • by xmas2003 (739875) *
      If it's penguins you want on your screen:
      Gentoo Penguins [komar.org] - King Penguins [komar.org] - Penguin being attacked by a Skua! [komar.org]
    • by MrCrassic (994046)

      What are you talking about? I can finally run Vista with that! If I'm lucky, I might even get Aero!

  • Now we know what will be needed to run Win 8, I guess.
    I better get started on my backyard fusion power plant....;-)

    • ..they want their joke back. Windows 7 runs perfectly fine on 6 year old machines. But MS is known for making shitty OSes with alternate versions so Windows 8 may still suck... though initial impressions are that not much will change from Windows 7.

      • by toastar (573882)

        ..they want their joke back. Windows 7 runs perfectly fine on 6 year old machines. But MS is known for making shitty OSes with alternate versions so Windows 8 may still suck... though initial impressions are that not much will change from Windows 7.

        every other one sucks? I haven't seen a good windows product at launch since win2k. XP was ok towards the end of it's lifetime. In my mind the jury is still out on 7, It's better then vista, but that doesn't say much. :(

        • by Teancum (67324)

          I am glad to see that I'm not a voice alone in the wilderness here on this issue. I also have to agree that the best operating system that Microsoft has ever released was Windows 2000 Professional. It was a significant enough improvement (where it counted.... in the OS core with stability and improved app security and other real OS features, not these crazy and fancy GUI features) over Windows NT 4 and the other operating systems like the MS-DOS based OSs of Win 95, 98, and ME that it really drew a line i

        • Seven is iffy, from a UI point of view. Some of the UI and management changes are nice. Some were just change for change's sake, and quite backward in usability.

          Anyone else feel that way?

          • by drsmithy (35869)
            Anyone else feel that way?

            I don't think any of them were "change for the sake of change", but I do think some of them are definite steps backward for particular types of users (eg: heavy multitaskers like me).

  • Balance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday March 08, 2010 @05:37PM (#31405740)
    Does it have the memory I/O bandwidth to keep up with the CPUs? When will I be able to actually buy a mother board with 8 of these 8 core CPUs, and what kind of a frame rate would Crysis get on that rig?
    • Re:Balance (Score:5, Funny)

      by vivek7006 (585218) on Monday March 08, 2010 @05:43PM (#31405810) Homepage
      Does it have the memory I/O bandwidth to keep up with the CPUs?
      Yes
      When will I be able to actually buy a mother board with 8 of these 8 core CPUs
      When you move out of your parents garage.
      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        Silly troll! 1) My parents don't currently own a garage. 2) I haven't lived in my parent's basement for over 30 years now. 3) My mother-in-law currently lives in my basement, which might be one of the reasons I can't afford something like this anyway.
      • by DarthVain (724186)

        So what your trying to say is "Never!"

    • Re:Balance (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DarkOx (621550) on Monday March 08, 2010 @05:46PM (#31405868) Journal

      These are target it the Virtualization and specialized application space. You are not going to put these in your gaming rig, and your not going to use the +4 core models in your tranditional stand alone application server. You could get much better dollar to performance ration elsewhere if those are your intended applications.

      Now slapping two or more of these things on a Linux box with a ton of UMLs running or on VMware ESX, and loading the system up with 128 gigs of ram and a medium business can probalby run their entire datacenter on 2 boxen + an entry level SAN.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CBRcrash (1061324)
        I'm thinking computing power for rent (aka the cloud), VDI, cluster data crunching , and any combination of the above
        • Let's say I invest in solar or wind energy. Which will provide the greatest ROI? Selling the energy directly, or have it run servers to sell off extra CPU cycles?

      • by nxtw (866177)

        with a ton of UMLs running

        UML? Where have you been for the last five years?

        KVM or Xen [wikipedia.org] are where it's at on Linux.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by raddan (519638) *

        You are not going to put these in your gaming rig

        I hear this a lot, but in a modern OS (e.g., one with a good scheduler) and with modern applications (ones that use either threading or cooperating processes), you can easily use a handful of processors, and yes, with normal desktop apps. Google Chrome, for instance, uses the cooperating process model, and for security reasons, I think you're going to start seeing [good] programmers divvy up their applications this way. Not only does it make application security a bit easier (separate address space for ea

      • Re:Actually... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by vertinox (846076) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @03:28AM (#31410822)

        It will improve gaming performance if you happened to be running something like Quakes Wars in ray tracing [wikipedia.org].

        Intel put together a demo on a workstation system with two Nehalem quad-core CPUs getting about 15 - 20 fps.

        Since ray tracing is embarrassingly parallel [wikipedia.org], all one needs to do to improve performance is to throw more cores at it.

        Keep in mind ray tracing is much more cpu intensive than gpu intensive...

    • Re:Balance (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday March 08, 2010 @05:46PM (#31405876) Journal
      Given that the Nehalems all have integrated memory controllers, I'd assume that the memory I/O situation wouldn't become substantially worse as you scaled up.

      From TFS's mention of "up to 8 CPUs or more with third-party node controllers" I'm(perhaps optimistically) assuming that that means all the RAM in an up to 8 socket system wouldn't be more than one hop away from any core.

      They almost certainly didn't go with 24MB of cache because their main memory situation is perfect; but intel's bigger chips are substantially improved from the old "Hey, let's hang a bunch of super expensive Xeons off a dubiously adequate northbridge through a shared front-side bus, let them starve for memory access, and then get curb stomped by cheaper Opterons!" days.
      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        From TFS's mention of "up to 8 CPUs or more with third-party node controllers" I'm(perhaps optimistically) assuming that that means all the RAM in an up to 8 socket system wouldn't be more than one hop away from any core.

        The block diagram in TFA shows 4 QPI interfaces, so theoretically yes.

        In practice almost certainly not, because that theoretical setup has no interfaces left to hook any I/O devices up to it and so is kinda useless. So at least one core has to dedicate at least one link to hook up a PCIe b

    • by afidel (530433)
      Basically yes, it actually has more bandwidth for remote NUMA access then current Nehalem-EP systems but fewer memory lanes per core so less bandwidth under high contention or more bandwidth under low contention. IBM has announced the x3690 X5 which has 32 DIMM slots for two EX sockets which will be a killer DB/Virtualization platform if priced competitively.
      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        Agreed, this is targeted at the DataBase Engine and HPC markets, not at gamers. The frame rate remark was a bad attempt at humor. A much better question would have been, "How long will it take until a massively parallel collection of these gets top ranking on the TOP500 supercomputer list?" I'd give it 2 years.
        • by afidel (530433)
          Perhaps, it's probably going to be significantly more expensive per raw MIP but because of the higher internode bandwidth it will scale better for many problems so will achieve higher real world throughput. I'd imagine someone will have one placed in the TOP500 by the fall announcement since all the other node interconnect stuff can be pulled from any existing Nehalem-EP based design.
          • by Locke2005 (849178)
            I'm sure somebody will be working on one by the fall announcement, but they generally start small and build up over time to the 200,000+ CPUs needed for a high TOP500 ranking. From what people have said on here, this chip does appear designed to do well on a massively parallel Linpack test and many real world MPI applications as well.
        • by joib (70841)

          I wouldn't be so sure. Like previous incarnations of the Xeon MP series, this one will be much more expensive per FLOP than the 2 sockets-per-node machines that make up most x86 entries in the top500 list.

          Anyway, for these big machines parallel scalability is mostly determined by the internode network, merely stuffing more cores per node does nothing. Or actually, if you don't increase network performance as you make the nodes fatter, parallel scalability will worsen as you have more cores sharing the netwo

  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by sardaukar_siet (559610) on Monday March 08, 2010 @05:43PM (#31405824)
    The end to "can it run Crysis?" jokes!
    • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Cytotoxic (245301) on Monday March 08, 2010 @06:38PM (#31406860)
      Even funnier, soon enough you'll be running Crysis on your cell phone (or whatever we call it then). Remember when it was tough to get decent framerate on Doom with high settings? You can run that on a cellphone these days. 15 years from "state of the art" to "runs on my cellphone." Wow. In 15 years you might have a 1TB database running on your personal communicator that fits in your pocket. (in keeping with the "15 years out" prediction theme of the day.
      • It’s a bit bad no say that it always is 15 years. It’s exponential. The goal is growing exponentially. That 15 years it took to raise processing power to where you could run it on a phone, is maybe a couple of weeks nowadays. That gives you a better feeling for it. ^^
        Of course the 1TB in 15 years still fits.

      • by evilWurst (96042)

        > In 15 years you might have a 1TB database running on your personal communicator that fits in your pocket. (in keeping with the "15 years out" prediction theme of the day.

        Hmm. Applying one of the Moore's Law variants to NAND flash, if storage size for the same price doubles every 18 months, 15 years is 10 generations. 2^10 = 1024. 4-8 GB of flash memory is already relative cheap today, even in the form of a microSD card the size of a fingernail, so I'd be kind of disappointed if we didn't have 1 TB flas

    • by kimvette (919543)

      Yes, but unfortunately it will only run Crysis on Windows XP. For Vista, you have to wait for the 16-core, I'm afraid. :-/

  • by karvind (833059) <karvindNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday March 08, 2010 @05:49PM (#31405910) Journal
    If it is matter of core-war, IBM's latest Power7 also has 8 cores. It is actually based on 45nm technology compared to Intel's latest 32nm. What makes Power7 exciting is that it has on-die 32MB L3 cache. They achieved this by introducing eDRAM (embedded DRAM) in the technology. Both Nehalem-EX and Power7 are targeting low-end server market, so it should be interesting battle.

    http://arstechnica.com/hardware/news/2009/09/ibms-8-core-power7-twice-the-muscle-half-the-transistors.ars [arstechnica.com]

    • by IYagami (136831) on Monday March 08, 2010 @06:05PM (#31406220)

      http://www.sun.com/processors/UltraSPARC-T2/ [sun.com]

      And the future Ultrasparc T3 will have 16 cores and 8 threads per core for a total of 128 threads per chip

      http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2010/02/two-billion-transistor-beasts-power7-and-niagara-3.ars?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss [arstechnica.com]

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Dragoniz3r (992309)
        True but they're designed for entirely different workloads. The Niagara series of processors is designed toward large numbers of not-particularly-intensive tasks such as serving web pages and such. Power7 and Nehalem-EX are targeted more toward processing-power-intensive tasks which are still parellizable.
      • What the T-series really needs is a boost to per-thread performance since it will otherwise remain a specialty processor only suitable for certain workloads.

        The T2 core has more than enough parallelism for most apps out there. What isn't appreciated though is that it pushes the server *implementation details* all the way up to the app-developers, which causes them grief when they need to target different hardware or when they utilize "junior" developers. It also causes a lot longer performance tuning phases

    • Sun's UltraSPARC T1 had 8 cores and a total of 32 concurrent threads, since 4 years ago. Best of all, that CPU is very low-power. Even better, it's completely open-source. You can download everything:
      ISA specification
      Verilog RTL source code of the design
      Verification environment, diagnostics tests and simulation images

      • But the specification does not mean anything, since the actual layout on the chip is much harder to get right, than you might imagine.

        So since it doesn’t help to get the spec for free: Where can I buy a version that will run my games? (The only resource-intensive processes I run.)

    • by maitas (98290)

      If EX delivers the expected performance, it will have the same performance per socket than Power7, but half the threads. I prefer the better single thread performance of EX than Power7.

    • by Anpheus (908711)

      Your post is all sorts of confusing.

      It is actually based on 45nm technology compared to Intel's latest 32nm.

      That makes it sound like more nanometers is better. Not in this case.

      Both Nehalem-EX and Power7 are targeting low-end server market, so it should be interesting battle.

      You have an extremely interesting definition of low end.

    • by bertok (226922)

      If it is matter of core-war, IBM's latest Power7 also has 8 cores. It is actually based on 45nm technology compared to Intel's latest 32nm. What makes Power7 exciting is that it has on-die 32MB L3 cache. They achieved this by introducing eDRAM (embedded DRAM) in the technology. Both Nehalem-EX and Power7 are targeting low-end server market, so it should be interesting battle.

      http://arstechnica.com/hardware/news/2009/09/ibms-8-core-power7-twice-the-muscle-half-the-transistors.ars [arstechnica.com]

      Since when is the "low-end server market" made up of 8-core 8-socket machines? Are you from the... future?

  • Licensed per Core (Score:2, Interesting)

    by merlinokos (892352)
    Software developers are going to have to figure out a new approach to licensing many of their products. VMware, for example, allows you to use a single license for every processor of 6 or fewer cores... how many people are going to pay for another license for the 2 extra cores? I see per core licenses coming in the near future.
  • by rberger (2481) on Monday March 08, 2010 @06:07PM (#31406254) Homepage

    So can we now expect a doubling of cores every 18 months?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968)

      So can we now expect a doubling of cores every 18 months?

      Moore's Law refers to transistor density, right? As long as programming makes the expected shift to massively parallel techniques that would justify a very large number of cores I think the answer to your question is yes.

      • by w0mprat (1317953)
        Cores themselves had been growing in transistor count even with the increase in cores. So I would say, for now the answer is no. Cores are doing more and more per clock cycle and have more parallelism within the core itself. This is still going on. Overall, specific peformance is still governed by transistor density, Moore's law still holds sway.

        Past a point, cores may simpify, I guess thats what we already have in billion transistor GPUs with 1000+ stream processors etc. I would go so far as to say the
      • by hedwards (940851)
        Yep, and technically speaking it's only barely related to the size of the chip. It's the number of transistors on a chip. So you can divide those however you like on a single chip and it makes no difference in that respect. For typical home users, I doubt that there's going to be any reason to go with more than a quad core set up any time soon. And possibly ever, the only reason why a typical home user would even want that many is to reduce the possibility of waiting on processor capacity to basically zero.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Solapse (925467)
      Surely that'll be Core's Law?
    • if you insist on comparing the products that Intel/AMD release into the desktop space with the products that they release into the server space 6-12 months later then yeah. But you are comparing apples and oranges here...
    • by rm999 (775449)

      A core is theoretically a fixed number of transistors, and Moore's law (depending on which version you quote) essentially states that the number of transistors per chip will double every 18 months. Therefore, a corollary to Moore's Law is that the number of cores could double every 18 months. I say could because engineers may decide to put more transistors in each core, which would slow down the core increase.

      Also, there is another caveat: many applications will never be able to take advantage of an insane

  • Hyperthreading (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MobyDisk (75490)

    Why are they are still announcing hyperthreading? It was established long-ago that it had no benefit. It's been off on any machines I've ever purchased.

    • No benefit? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xocet_00 (635069)
      This article [ixbtlabs.com] outlines the various circumstances under which hyperthreading either benefits or impedes performance. While it's true that on average the benefit was zero (meaning about half of what they tested was faster, and about half was slower) there are clearly a lot of applications that see significant performance gains.

      It should also be noted that the applications that benefit are ones that would generally be used in Xeon (server and workstation) machines. Further, most of the applications that fail
      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        Okay, perhaps "no benefit" was too strong of a term. There are cases where it helps, and various replies have pointed-out those cases. As a general rule though, if a feature helps 10% of the time, and hurts 10% of the time, I would rather it be off.

        Ideally, the feature would be enabled for those apps that do benefit from it. Perhaps the implementation was the problem - the OS general reports twice as many CPUs as it really has, which causes some apps/servers to spawn more threads than they should.

    • Re:Hyperthreading (Score:5, Informative)

      by jcupitt65 (68879) on Monday March 08, 2010 @06:31PM (#31406738)

      Hyperthreading used to suck, but it works pretty well now. In the benchmarks I've done with my code I see about a 60% speedup.

      http://www.vips.ecs.soton.ac.uk/index.php?title=Benchmarks#Results_summary [soton.ac.uk]

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        According to my server metric graphs the additional threads are only useful for WIO CPU states.

        For example, on Intel 4core i7 920 processor, enabling hyperthreading impersonates additional four cores. But CPU utilization reported by metrics software shows that USR and SYS cpu times will only go up to 50% and WIO will add another 12%. This corresponds to having a virtual core used for waiting to IO stuff. Additional 3 virtual cores do not serve anything at all.

    • by Spatial (1235392)
      Long ago? CPU architectures aren't static. A Nahalem isn't exactly a Northwood you know.

      It can make a big difference to some applications, like 3D renderers. Sometimes it doesn't help, but disabling it without considering the typical load is unwise.
    • First off it went away for a long time. The P4s had hyper threading but the Pentium Ds and Core 2s (duos and quads) didn't. It didn't come back until the i7.

      The other reason is that it is useful now. When HT first came out, it was pretty much for desktop chips and we were still very much a single core world. Ok well little was designed to truly take advantage of multiple threads in that environment. People noticed no real speedup. However now not only are things better using multiple cores, but the server m

  • Now I can run all my crapware, viruses, trojans, malware, and other dubious software bits at FULL SPEED! Yay

    • Flash (Score:3, Funny)

      by 0123456 (636235)

      Better than that, with a properly multi-threaded web browser we'll be able to display sixteen animated Flash ads simultaneously with no slowdown!

  • by yuhong (1378501) <yuhongbao_386@ho ... minus physicist> on Monday March 08, 2010 @06:22PM (#31406550) Homepage
    In other news, AMD has a blog article on it's soon to be launched competitor to this, Socket G32 8-core/12-core Opterons:
    http://blogs.amd.com/work/2010/02/22/magny-cours-is-right-on-schedule-and-shipping-to-customers/ [amd.com]
  • by freaker_TuC (7632) on Monday March 08, 2010 @06:30PM (#31406714) Homepage Journal

    ... super cool looking white plastic mold which fits my sochet and cool looking notepad!

  • by unitron (5733) on Monday March 08, 2010 @07:30PM (#31407540) Homepage Journal

    So, how soon until newegg.com has the fake ones in stock?

  • try and take over the world!

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