I talk with a lot of customers. Since the initial disclosure, there has been a groundswell of EXcitement(bad geek pun) for the upcoming Nehalem EX launch. I think this is primarily driven by the realization of just how significant the Xeon 5500 ( aka Nehalem EP ) product has been. Xeon 5500 delivered an unprecedented leap in Xeon performance, the biggest ever. Things are pretty good if you can get 30-40% per generation. Nehalem EP was 2-3 times the performance of the previous generation.
Nehalem EX looks well positioned to take this crown away, delivering the biggest leap ever.
Nehalem EX arrives in the box with:
Up to eight cores / 16 threads with hyper-threading and 24MB of cache
Up to 9x the memory bandwidth over and up to 64 memory slots in a four socket platform
Over 15 eight-Socket+ designs from 8 OEMs coming
New RAS technology - Machine Check Architecture (MCA) – formerly reserved for high end Itanium systems
This is exciting from a performance perspective, but even more exciting as an opportunity for consolidation and migration.
Large enterprise applications – ERP, CRM, Decision support have been the domain of the scale up SMP architecture. Clouds and grids are making progress, but these applications are often easiest to manage on a single image. In order to meet service level requirements ( like completion of close in under 6 hours ) IT managers have resorted to 16, 32, even 64 processor RISC systems. This scale up domain has been mostly outside the scope of Xeon systems.
Nehalem EX with 64 threads in a four way box changes the math. Systems requirements that forced scale on expensive proprietary RISC architectures can now run on a Xeon platform. With systems up to 128 threads there are very few enterprise applications that will not fit into this box
It is a one-two punch. SMP scale and mainframe class reliability features. The opportunity to migrate of legacy RISC to Xeon is upon us.