New Xeon processors use 45nm manufacturing process first used with Penryn chips
Intel Corp. today unveiled two low-voltage, 45 nanometer server processors.

The Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor L5400 Series chips run at 50 watts -- or 12.5 watts per core -- while its performance still reaches the 2.5 GHz mark. Intel is making the chips using the 45 nanometer (nm) manufacturing process that it first used with its Penryn family of chips that were unveiled last November.

The new chips deliver the same performance as their predecessors, the Xeon 5400 Series, but use 40% less power, according to a company spokesman.

Energy-efficient processors are gaining more attention as companies increasingly look to go green - saving users' power and money. For companies with large data centers, the cost of electricity can sap up a significant portion of their IT budget.

"There is a class of customer that is looking more to economically or environmentally friendly designs," said Stephen Thorne, a product line manager for Intel's server platform group. "And there also are customers who are trying to pack as much performance as possible into their data center."

Thorne noted that there has been a call for energy-efficient processors in blade configurations. "A lot of users have power constraints or physical constraints," he added. "Say you have a fixed space in Manhattan. You can't expand the space but with lower-energy processors, you could pack more servers into a rack because each server is using less power."

In January, Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. disclosed that it was picking up speed on delivering its own energy-efficient quad-core chip. AMD's 9100E processor, which reportedly uses a third less power than regular Phenom chips, had been slated on in-house road maps to ship in either Q2 or Q3. The chip is now on the docket to be released this quarter.

And the clock is quickly ticking down on the first quarter, so, if AMD's new chip is still on track, it should ship this week.

Intel reported that its new Xeon processors have a 50% larger cache size than the company's previous-generation, low-voltage quad-core Intel Xeon processors. They also have 12 megabytes of on-die cache and dedicated 1,333 MHz front side buses.

Thorne said they were able to lower the power consumption on the new chips because of a combination of the 45nm manufacturing process, running them at a slightly slower speed and by lowering the voltage across all the cores to parse out the reduction.

Vendors supporting the new energy-efficient Xeon chips include Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, and NEC.

Intel also announced Tuesday that it expects to begin shipping its L5210 dual-core processor that will boast a 40-watt rating and clock speed of 3 GHz, with a 6 MB cache size and a 1333 MHz FSB.