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Embedded Xeon CPUs have integrated I/O

Feb 12, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

Intel says it is now sampling new Xeon processors specifically aimed at embedded, networking, and storage applications. The Xeon C5500 and C3500 CPUs range from a single-core processor with a 23-Watt TDP, to a quad-core processor with a 85-Watt TDP, and include an integrated I/O hub, the chipmaker says.

The new Xeons (right), first announced under their "Jasper Forest" code name last September, are a manifestation of Intel's "Nehalem" microarchitecture, offered for mainstream desktop PCs and entry-level servers last year with the release of the 45nm Core i5, i7, and Xeon 3400 processors. Die-shrunk, 32nm Core i3, i5, i7, and Xeon X3400 versions subsequently made their debut last month (for complete details, see our earlier coverage here).

While the C5500 and C3500 Xeons are still 45nm parts, they nonetheless represent a breakthrough, says Intel, because they include an I/O hub integrated via PCI Express. This integration will save valuable board real estate, and lowers system power consumption by 27 Watts compared to the previous Xeon 5500 CPUs, the chipmaker says.

The die for Intel's Jasper Forest Xeon CPUs
Source: Intel (Click to enlarge)

Offered with seven-year lifecycle support, the new processors are aimed at communications, storage, wireless infrastructure, routers, military, and security applications, Intel says. As detailed in the chart further below, they range from the single-core, 23-Watt C3518 on up to the quad-core, 85-Watt C5549. Some models employ "Turbo Boost" technology, whereby clock speed can be bumped up temporarily in response to work load, the chipmaker adds.

The Jasper Forest Xeons come in multiple versions.

Intel touts the following additional technical features of the new Jasper Forest Xeons:

  • Non-transparent bridging functionality, allowing multiple systems to seamlessly connect over a PCIe link, removing the need for an external PCIe switch
  • Integrated RAID, including support for Levels 5 and 6, without use of a custom ASIC
  • Integrated asynchronous DRAM self-refresh memory, helping to protect critical data in the event of a power failure
  • Intel VT and VT FlexPriority virtualization technologies

Intel's new Jasper Forest CPUs
Source: Intel
(Click to enlarge)

The Xeon C5500/C3500 — along with the Celeron P1053 also shown in the chart above — are designed to work with the 3420 Platform Controller Hub, according to Intel. This is a 27 x 27mm chip used to add eight PCI Express x1 ports (configurable as x2 and x4), six SATA 3Gb/sec. ports, 12 USB 2.0 ports, and "Matrix Storage Technology," the company says.

A block diagram of Intel's Xeon 3400 and 3400 series chipset
(a lower-end version of the 3420 mentioned above)

(Click to enlarge)

According to Intel, the Xeon C5500/C3500 may be installed in either single- or dual-processor configurations, as illustrated by the diagrams below. The Celeron P1053 provides similar features but does not include RAS (row address strobe) memory protection features such as scrubbing, sparing, and mirroring, the company adds.

Intel C5500/C3500 in single- (left) and dual-processor (right) configurations
(Click either to enlarge)

In its announcement, Intel also pointed to a variety of devices that will be using the new Xeon processors. These include:

  • Caswell's CAR-5000, a 2U rackmount network appliance
  • Gigabyte's GA-7JASV, an ATX motherboard aimed at servers and communications devices 
  • Kontron's AM5030, a full-size AMC module
  • Lanner's FW-8910 (right), a dual-CPU rackmount appliance
  • Trenton's JXT6966, a PICMG 1.3 board


According to Intel, its Xeon C5500/C3500 chips are sampling now, and will be generally available within 90 days. Pricing in quantities of 1,000 reportedly ranges from $192 to $530.

More information on the Xeon C5500/C3500 may be found on Intel's website, here.

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