Why Intel® Xeon 5500 Processor Series?

May 14th, 2009 1:39 pm
Posted by Maria McLaughlin
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The new Intel® Xeon Processors 5500 series is a new micro architecture. The most significant change is a true quad-core design with much improved memory bandwidth. In past Intel designs, all the processor sockets on the motherboard shared the same memory controller. As the core count on the nodes increased, this introduced a possible bottleneck for some applications. The Intel® micro-architecture has now placed a memory controller on each processor and added a high speed processor-to-processor interface (12.8 GB/s unidirectional) called QuickPath. The result is a 3.5 times improvement in memory bandwidth as measured by the stream benchmark using a similarly clocked Harpertown processor. Intel reports that applications like LS-Dyna and Fluent see improvements of 2.02 and 2.2 times (respectively) over previous generation hardware.

In addition to improved memory performance, Intel has introduced some other enhancements. The New Intel® Xeon Processors now include Intel® Turbo Boost Technology that improves performance by allowing the operating system to increase core frequencies within the current power envelope. The idea is to increase the clock speed of cores if others are idle while still staying within the thermal specifications. In addition, Intel® Intelligent Power Technology allows for individual cores to be powered down when not in use. The power draw for both memory and the I/O controller on idle nodes can be reduced as well, bringing the idle power consumption for the Nehalem to 10 watts.

There are other improvements worth noting. While not used as much in HPC, Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology is back allowing more threads than cores to operate at the same time. Memory Capacity is now 144GB and the L3 cache is shared between all cores on each Nehalem processor. There have been other improvements in virtualization technology as well.

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Author Info


Maria McLaughlin joined Appro in 2002 and has responsibility for all Appro's marketing, which includes branding, product positioning, market analysis, perception improvement, marketing communications and demand creation. She is also responsible for coordinating the product-definition and Go-to-Market Plan activities across Appro. Prior to her role at Appro, Mrs. McLaughlin worked at Hewlett-Packard for 13 years, where she held several marketing roles. She has also international business experience gained working at 3M Corporation in Campinas, SP, Brazil.

Mrs. McLaughlin graduated from Pontificia Catolica University in Brazil with a Bachelor’s degree in Business and English. She has also attended Berkeley Extension University in San Francisco.