Intel confirms eight-core server chip is Nehalem EX

Intel confirmed that the eight-core, 2.3 billion transistor processor it plans to detail next week is the Nehalem EX chip, but the company declined to offer details of the chip ahead of the upcoming International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco.

"We can't present all the details today that will be presented at the conference next Monday," said Mark Bohr, a senior fellow at Intel, during a conference call with reporters.

Designed for servers with multiple processors, the Nehalem EX will sit at the top of Intel's Xeon processor range. The chip will likely take the spot in the product lineup that's currently held by the six-core, 2.4-GHz Xeon 7450, the 2.13-GHz Xeon 7455 and the 2.66-GHz Xeon 7460 processors, which were released late last year and are currently the most powerful Xeon processors. These chips, formerly called Dunnington, will also be the subject of a paper that Intel executives will present at the ISSCC.

While Intel won't discuss many details of the Nehalem EX chip, a few specifications have already been disclosed. The chip is a variant of Intel's Nehalem processor family and will be manufactured using a 45-nanometer process. Like other members of the Nehalem family, the Nehalem EX has support for faster DDR3 memory and includes an on-chip memory controller.

The Nehalem EX will also use Intel's QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) technology instead of a front-side bus to connect the processors with each other and other system components. Compared with the front-side bus, QPI allows more data to be moved faster and should greatly speed up system performance.

Intel also isn't disclosing a release date for Nehalem EX, but it's probable that the chip will be released during the second half of this year. In recent years, the company has refreshed its high-end Xeon late in the third quarter.

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