Intel Corporation Likely Planning to Launch New Xeon Chips Next Week

If you head on over to Intel's investor website, you'll see that the company has an event titled "Transforming Business Through Analytics." The event will be hosted by Intel Data Center Group general manager Diane Bryant.

Although the event is still days away, and although the title doesn't actually tell us much in the way of what Bryant plans to discuss, I'm very confident that the company will be launching its next generation, super high end Xeon E7 v3 processors.

What's a Xeon E7?Intel has multiple different families of server processors, and the Xeon E7 represents Intel's biggest, most powerful server chips. These chips are targeted at systems that feature up to eight processors on a single motherboard, and generally have the most robust reliability features of Intel's server product stack.

Due to the fact that these chips are typically deployed in complex multiprocessor configurations, and given the need for extreme reliability, they're usually the last of Intel's server products to get updated. To put this into perspective, the best Xeon E7 chips available today use Intel's Ivy Bridge processor core, which first showed up in PCs back in 2012.

In contrast, Intel's dual-socket Xeon E5 chips have moved on to the next generation Haswell and the single-socket, micro-server oriented Xeon D processors shipping today use Haswell's follow-on known as Broadwell. The new Xeon E7 chips will most likely use Haswell processor cores and be fabricated on Intel's 22-nanometer technology.

What should we expect from these chips?Back in February, CPU World leaked a set of "partial specifications" of Intel's upcoming Xeon E7 processors. The four socket models will reportedly come in 8, 10, 12, and 14 core variants. The eight socket models are expected to consist primarily of 16 and 18 core models, although there will be 10 and 4 core models as well.

The thermal design power of these chips are expected to range from 115 watts all the way up to 165 watts.

One thing to keep in mind about these chips is that they are said to include Intel's TSX instructions. The instructions are built into all Haswell processors, but Intel found a bug in the implementation and it has been disabled in all shipping Haswell silicon (including the Xeon E5 chips) since the discovery of the bug.

The revision of Haswell that's shipping inside of the Xeon E7 v3 seems to be a fixed variant of the core with TSX enabled.

A few more thingsIn addition to the Xeon E7 v3 chips, I expect that Intel will also introduce the four-socket versions of its Xeon E5 processors, particularly since CPU World reported that these chips should also come in the second quarter of 2015. These should be similar to the Xeon E5 processors currently on the market except that they can be used in four processor configurations.

Interestingly enough, CPU World says that these chips will support the FMA and AVX2 instructions present on all Haswell chips, but makes no mention of TSX. Intel may be choosing to keep TSX exclusive to the higher-end Xeon E7 v3 chips, potentially in a bid to convince customers to buy more expensive chips.

That being said, I fully expect that by the time the Xeon E5 processors get updated to Broadwell, potentially by late 2015 or early 2016, TSX will be enabled on all Xeon chips released going forward.

Finally, on Intel's public roadmap, it makes mention of a Xeon E3 v4 processor family, complete with an updated chipset known as the C226. CPU World says that these chips are expected to launch "sometime in the middle of 2015," so the timing might be right for such a launch.

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Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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