Intel might scale back its plans for Xeon processors using its Westmere-EX architecture, a rumor may have confirmed today. Originally thought to have as many as 12 cores, a source now says it would peak at 10. What caused this wasn't mentioned by the PCWorld contact, but heat, power and size requirements are often what set back chip releases.
An Intel representative declined to comment.
Westmere-EX will be Intel's first server-class Xeon processor built on the 32 nanometer Westmere process already in use for the six-core Xeon 5600. With 10 cores it will only be a slight boost compared to the eight-core Xeon 7500, but it should be a significant help for pro systems where parallelism in code is very important. With Hyperthreading, Westmere-EX should support up to 20 simultaneous program threads on a single core versus 16 on the current generation.
The move would still leave Intel in a rare lagging position in the x86 processor category it helped invent. AMD is already shipping 12-core Opterons even though it has to use a less efficient 45 nanometer process and, in multi-threaded tasks, could still be faster than Westmere-EX in the right conditions. AMD is expected to eventually move to more efficient processes and may keep that advantage in the short term.