The new Intel Nehalem Xeon CPUs, which are being introduced in countless one- and two-socket servers and workstations, have already generated a lot of heat.

Fasten your seatbelts

Going forward, the raw power of the Nehalem Xeon will accelerate everything it touches, from ASIC design to automobile design to weather simulations to global data models. Heavy data-intensive applications that used to take days might now take hours.

Those that took hours might now take minutes. Nehalem will step up the pace with which we develop every modern technology, from mobile phones to microwaves. Rendering computer-generated imagery for movies will require far less time. Fully animated movies will be cheaper to produce, and the computer-animated models will be far more realistic due to reduced overhead.

This is true of every advancement in core processing technology, but this one is bigger than most, and it comes at a time when sophisticated modeling and design calculations are becoming more of a reality than ever before. Essentially, processes and procedures that were simply too complex and time-intensive even a few months ago are now completely feasible.

Nehalem isn't just a newer, faster chip - it's a game-changing development in microprocessor technology. It's also likely a direct result of the time just a few years ago when AMD was busy eating Intel's 64-bit lunch. One might wonder what impetus Intel would have to continue this development trend without significant competition. People run faster with a wolf nipping at their heels. Without that motivation, perhaps a leisurely stroll would be the order of the day.

We should all hope that AMD will continue to provide the push Intel needs, and will soon offer a chip with performance that can compare to the Nehalem. That said, the primary reason behind the Nehalem's big boost is that Intel finally integrated the memory controller on the CPU, an advantage that once was the hallmark of the Opteron - but that can only be done once.

Intel's next step - shrinking the Nehalem process to 32 nanometers with Westmere - won't be able to leverage the obvious performance gains derived from that step.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict

Intel Nehalem Xeon: Specs

  • Based on a NUMA architecture
  • 45nm Hi-k next generation Intel Core microarchitecture
  • quad-core layout
  • 731 million transistors
  • 256KB of L2 cache per core
  • 8MB of L3 cache
  • memory bandwidth speeds: 25.6GBps per link or 6.4GT (Gigatransfers) per second with DDR3 RAM
  • RAM clocks run at 800MHz, 1,066MHz, or 1,333MHz
  • Virtualization Technology
  • Based on a NUMA architecture
  • 45nm Hi-k next generation Intel Core microarchitecture
  • quad-core layout
  • 731 million transistors
  • 256KB of L2 cache per core
  • 8MB of L3 cache
  • memory bandwidth speeds: 25.6GBps per link or 6.4GT (Gigatransfers) per second with DDR3 RAM
  • RAM clocks run at 800MHz, 1,066MHz, or 1,333MHz
  • Virtualization Technology

SHOULD I BUY INTEL NEHALEM XEON?

Whatever the reasons and machinations behind the development of the Nehalem chip, and regardless of what the future will bring, the raw power Nehalem represents is simply stunning.