Buckle Up, Intel Preps 8-Core Nehalem-EX Chips for March Launch

What could you do with 8 physical cores of CPU processing power? Probably not a whole lot on the desktop front (save for you Folding@Home fanatics), but in the server sector, Intel's upcoming 8-core Nehalem-EX chip is pretty big news, and it's launching later this month, according to Intel Xeon Platform Director, Shannon Poulin.

The announcement puts to rest any worries 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:
  • Intel Nehalem Architecture buil on Intel's unique 45nm high-k metal gate technology process
  • Up to 8 cores per processor
  • Up to 16 threads per processor with Intel Hyper-threading
  • Scalability up to eight sockets via Quick Path Interconnects and greater with third-party node controllers
  • QuickPath Architecture with four high-bandwidth links
  • 24MB of shared cache
  • Integrated memory controllers
  • Intel Turbo Boost Technology
  • Intel scalable memory buffer and scalable memory interconnects
  • Up to 9x the memory bandwidth of previous generation
  • Support for up to 16 memory slots per processor socket
  • Advanced RAS capabilities including MCA Recovery
  • 2.3 billion transistors
As you might expect, Nehalem-EX is intended for high-end servers and systems where crunching numbers is the name of the game. It will also come in handy for server consolidation and virtualized applications, Intel said. What we don't know, however, is how fast the chips will come clocked, at least not yet.

Like AMD's 12-core Opteron server CPUs -- codenamed Magney-Cours -- Intel's Nehalem-EX architecture offers four memory channels per processor. Nehalem-EX will offer up to nine times the memory bandwidth of the previous generation Intel Xeon 7400 platform, a pretty impressive leap.