The Agility to Move Your Business Forward. Hmm. Hmmmmmmm. If I'd had seen that marketing slogan say three years ago, when Xeon had zero competition for enterprise-class x86-based computing, there'd be less scepticism in my words. But when it sits as the premier slogan when you hit up the Intel Xeon sub-site, given the current nemesis they face, my mind starts to doubt.
You know the story by now: AMD released the Opteron over two years ago in September 2003, as the first example of the company's new K8 core, a core that debuted the AMD AMD64/x86-64 microprocessor architecture. Opteron slapped Xeon around back then, and it's done so ever since. The basic architecture behind that first Opteron then made it to the desktop, and the same story played out there, too.
With Opteron ruling a significant roost since release, large scores of massive enterprises, small businesses, academia and the scientific world - and probably everyone in between to boot - runs infrastructure, datacentres and processing behemoths on the chips that have made AMD the most famous in their history.
These days it's all about Intel trying to kick back at - if you'll permit me the horrible (but funny for an article on CPUs) mental image - the pair of AMD swinging testes that represent enterprise and desktop. In short, Intel would dearly love to hoof AMD in those balls. It's just a bit of a shame that all recent signs point to that only happening when Merom, Conroe and Woodcrest are released. Those chips use a brand new microarchitecture, the 8th generation of CPU technology from Intel, that replaces the current 7th-generation NetBurst.
Until that new architecture puts its boots on and takes careful aim, Intel is still waving its silicon willy around with NetBurst-based processors. To its credit, though, Netburst can be a bit of a big one. Recent times have seen it paired up with larger on-chip caches, faster frequencies, decent stabs at power saving technology (some of the Netburst family have certainly needed it!) and, of course, dual cores.
We've had a look at dual-core Intel processors on HEXUS in 2005, starting with the Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 840 and most recently the Pentium D 820, with both based on Netburst performance tenets.
Now it's Xeon's turn to do the dual-core Netburst dance. Paxville is the name of the core, and it's that which has to do another gruelling 12 rounds with Opteron until Woodcrest takes the tag and wrestles whatever AMD have around by then.
The next page does all the explaining about Paxville and platform specifics, so join me in the HEXUS evaluation of the last Xeon DP chip architecture, before Intel get rid of the current stuff and start fresh in 2006 with something new.