Intel has announced its latest server processor range, the Xeon E5-2600. The chips have up to eight cores, but HyperThreading effectively doubles that to 16 per socket.

Intel claims that the CPUs are up to 80 per cent faster compared to the older Xeon 5600 processors. The Xeon E5 has four memory channels and supports up to 768GB of memory as well as PCI Express 3.0 for tripling the speed at which data can get to and from the processor.

Cache has also been increased, up to 20MB in total over three layers. Again, this is up from a maximum of 12MB in the previous generation of chips.
The Xeon E5 is compatible with Intel's Socket 2011, and the flagship model, the E5-2690 runs at 2.9GHz and can 'Turbo' by 900MHz when extra performance is needed. The old model - the 5690 - could boost its speed by only 266MHz.

The reason for the extra speed is down to the new Turbo Boost 2.0 mode. This can increase speed at the operating system's request when more performance is needed, and power can be redirected from idle cores to the active one. This allows the processor to run above its thermal design power (TDP) for longer periods than were previously possible. It's possible the same technology will be in the new Ivy Bridge PC and laptop processors that Intel is expected to launch in April.

In total Intel has announced a whopping 20 new Xeon E5 models, ranging from the E5-1620 - a quad-core chip running at 3.6GHz and with 10MB of cache costing around £200 - to the E5-2690 which will set you back around £1,300.

One of the most popular SKUs is likely to be the Xeon E5-2650. Although these eight-core parts run at a relatively modest 2GHz, they have the full 20MB of cache and cost roughly £700.