Intel's New Xeons Spark Server Surge

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Intel launches three new series of Xeon CPUs designed to bring super-high performance computing to severs everywhere and provide powerful 'green' CPUs ideal for workstation environments.

Intel continues to propel itself deeper into the heart of the IT industry with a new trio of Xeon-series processors. This time, the CPUs are specifically designed to meet a range of computing needs, from high performance environments that demand raw computing power to low-powered houses that strike a balance between price and performance.

Enter the E5-4600, E5-2400 and the E3-1200 (version 2). Like its consumer brethren (Core i5, i3), these CPUs are designed for specific target markets, namely workstations and servers.

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First, a quick tech lesson: The E5-4600 was built for use in multi-CPU servers – think cloud, virtualization and other high demand environments. Its smaller cousin, the E5-2400, was built for mid-range servers, potentially for the SMB or a private in-house cloud. This CPU is also an ideal candidate for high-end workstation desktops. Intel's E3-1200 floats in as entry-level processor, ideal for regular workstation doldrums and a variety of rendering tasks. The E3-1200 has also been shrunk to a 22-nanometer design to enhance its performance-per-watt ratio. As such, the E3-1200 is being billed as a "green," energy-efficient and affordable CPU.

These new CPUs arrive as Intel regularly refreshes its silicon, but the company has noted that they are also wrought from strong customer demand for increased data-center performance. As such, the E5 family will support Intel's Turbo Boost technology, PCI Express 3.0 and a host of other performance-enhancing tweaks. The E3-1200 series includes Intel Integrated graphics, which can expand the footprint and usefulness of the CPU.

Unsurprisingly, many vendors have jumped at the occasion to include Intel's CPUs in their sever solutions – most interesting being IBM. Although IBM has long touted the capabilities of its non-Intel CPUs, Big Blue is warming to Intel's latest x86 Xeons, implanting them into the new BladeCenter servers, the HS23E series. This rack-mounted unit will ship with the E5-2400 series, making it especially versatile without being overly expensive. Lenovo, often overlooked in the server space, has launched two ThinkStations (RD530 and RD630) that come equipped with any of the new E5-series CPUs and are capable of operating in extremely demanding performance environments.

Meanwhile, Dell has outfitted its PowerEdge servers with the same CPUs, launching the PowerEdge R820 as the server to end all servers. It comes fully equipped with 4 Intel Xeon E5-4600 chips, making it perfect for grueling virutalizaiton demands, cloud servers and anywhere high availability and performance can't be sacrificed. Under the R820 is the smaller PowerEdge M420, a quieter slim-line rack-mounted unit ideal for more general server usage thanks to the E5-2400 series CPU. Of course, HP is in the race with a lineup of customizable ProLiant Generation 8 servers. HP has also made these systems compatible with the full range of Intel's new CPUs, but features the E5-4600 and E5-2400 as the key standout units.

Intel boasts a long list of additional vendors, including Acer, Cisco, SuperMicro and Huawei.

For the channel, it's a simple play. These new systems turn the volume up to 11. Powerful server options give customers the kind of performance needed for new and emerging virtualization and cloud technologies from cloud backup solutions to fully implemented VDI. Likewise, managed service providers should be happy to know these new CPUs can supercharge performance, which is increasingly important as both customers and software become more demanding of the infrastructure.

Only one question remains: Will AMD be able to keep up?

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