On November 2, 2006 the embargo for Intel's Core 2 Extreme Quad QX6700 was lifted which resulted in a slurry of reviews covering this flagship desktop processor. However, this morning happens to be an important date for Supercomputing 2006 and it serves as yet another milestone for Intel Corporation. This morning Intel will be introducing the Xeon 5300 series, or perhaps better known by its codename of Clovertown. At Phoronix we have had these processors in-house for over a week now and today are able to share our thoughts on these quad-core server/workstation processors as we test them under GNU/Linux.
The introduction of Clovertown is coming quickly after the successful launch of the Xeon 5100 series (Woodcrest), which had only happened back on June 26 of this year. This server/workstation version of the Intel Core 2 processor (launched on July 27, 2006) had performed extremely well in our tests when compared against the Xeon 5000 Dempsey (Intel Xeon 5150 Performance). Intel has been quick to speed the adoption of quad-core processors, while Advanced Micro Devices will not even be producing quad-core server or desktop chips until the second half of 2007. Intel is confident with its quad-core adoption and they have pledged to ship one million of these processors before AMD is able to deliver Deerhound (codename for AMD's first quad-core processor). However, these first generation four-core processors (Kentsfield and Clovertown) are really nothing more than two dual-core chips placed onto a single package. This process is similar to Intel's original dual-core Pentium D Smithfield, which was two Prescott cores bonded together on a single LGA-775 processor substrate. One of the benefits this time around is the power efficiency -- the issues that had faced Smithfield should not plague the Kentsfield or Clovertown. Another benefit of this approach, and will assist in Intel's hope for a quick adoption, is the price-point for these quad-core Xeons, which should be approximately the same as the dual-core versions. Intel's fabrication facilities can quickly adapt to the manufacturing needs of the Clovertown and Kentsfield depending upon market demand. The downside, however, with this design is that the two sets of cores communicate with each other using the system Front Side Bus (FSB).
With the Core Micro-architecture implementation the Clovertown is able to benefit from Wide Dynamic Execution, Intelligent Power Capability, Advanced Smart Cache, and Advanced Digital Media Boost. Like the Woodcrests, Clovertown shares a 65nm manufacturing process. Intel's Xeon 5300 lineup consists of the X5355, E5345, E5320, E5310, and E5335, which come clocked at 2.66GHz, 2.33GHz, 1.86GHz, 1.60GHz, and 2.00GHz respectively. The Xeon E5335, however, will not be available until Q1'2007. Clovertown processors use 8MB of L2 cache and a 1333MHz FSB, while the lower-end models will revert to a slightly lower 1066MHz FSB. The flagship X5355 quad-core comes clocked at 2.66GHz with a 120W TDP, which is in comparison to the fastest Woodcrest (Xeon 5160) at 3.00GHz with an 80W power consumption. With the exception of the X5355, the other Clovertown processors all have an 80W TDP; however, coming out later will be a 50W alternative. Another difference between Clovertown models is that the E5310 and E5335 lack support for demand-based switching.
The processors we have in front of us today are labeled Intel Confidential, but they are using production silicon and are the same as what will be available through the retail channels. These chips were made in Costa Rica and come from the Xeon E5320 series. As always, many thanks go out to Intel and Tyan for this launch-day opportunity.