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More Information about Intel Desktop CPU Roadmap

Endgadget has a post up about an upcoming 32nm Westmere family CPU called the Core i7-980X, which will have six cores (12 with hyper-threading), 12MB of shared L3 cache, clocked at 3.33GHz. It will be an “Extreme Edition” processor, which means that you would have to be extremely foolish to buy one at around $1000 (which is the typical price for an ‘Extreme Edition’ CPU). I say this because Intel typically has one or two processors from the same family (but not “Extreme”) that are clocked slightly lower that will cost 50-70% less than their flagship model. The price/performance ratio of the processors lower in the lineup is much, much better.

Despite what Endgadget says, you probably won’t see the Core i7-980X in the next refresh of the Mac Pro, because Apple uses Intel Xeon processors in the two socket Mac Pro. The Xeon version of the 32nm six-core will probably be called the Xeon 56xx series, which should drop right in to an existing Nehalem-EP, two socket server (such as a Dell PowerEdge R610/R710), with a BIOS update.

Most of the time it does not make economic sense up upgrade the CPUs in an existing server, but you should be on the lookout when when they are available, since they won’t require new chipsets, they will be available in existing server designs more quickly.

The supposedly leaked roadmap below shows very little change through the rest of 2010, which is somewhat depressing. This may be an example of Intel resting on its laurels because of a lack of competition from AMD, or it could be that the roadmap is just wrong.

Comments

Posted by Steve Jones on 16 December 2009

How often do you upgrade CPUs at work? Have there been specific examples that you've upgraded something for SQL Server without replacing the whole machine?

Posted by Glenn Berry on 16 December 2009

We have added CPUs to empty sockets in SQL Server boxes at NewsGator. What I was trying to convey was that it is rare to upgrade a CPU in an existing server, but that these new CPUs will work in existing server designs. This means that very soon after Intel makes them available, you would be able to buy a new server from someone like Dell with that CPU, since no server redesign will be necessary.

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