For many years Intel chips have lacked major features that the Itanium chips offered to customers and users. Forget about speed and power consumption, I am talking about features like: DIMM isolation, hot swappable RAM,  CPU hot add, inter socket memory mirroring, and RAS (Reliability, Availability, Serviceability).

The features mentioned above simply did not exist in the world of Intel Xeon chips. Not until the release of Nehalem-EX, which is was designed mainly for high-end and capacity servers with up to 256GB of RAM per socket and up to 256 sockets.

Each chip has eight physical cores and 24MB of L3 cache! Want or need 1TB of RAM – No problem! Just get a four socket Nexalem-EX server and you needs will be fulfilled.

Another big difference in the new Nehalem-EX chip is that it is actually built on a 42nm platform and can easily handle very large workloads.

What does EX stands for? With big numbers and specifications/features like that it can only mean one thing – (EX)treme.

Many performance test indicate the supreme power of the Nehalem-EX chip. It easily outperforms many of the competitors and it puts it predecessor, the X7360, to shame with unmatched performance that in some cases is 50% better.

Some may not believe the fact that the X7360 had a 670MHz clock rate bump per core over the X7560, two additional chips, and it is outperformed by the lower clock rate Nehalem-EX. Well…cores and clock rate are not the only factors that determine the speed and performance of a CPU. When it comes down to high end servers one have to look at the bundle of features that a particular chip has.  For instance – The x7350 has more cores and higher clock rate, but it lacks in cache and does not have the QuickPath feature.

Features like hot add RAM and CPU, now available on the Nehalem-EX, will not work unless the OS cooperates significantly to aid the hardware. The operating system needs to be able to handle the information on the fly and adjust all processes without a reboot. Older operating systems will NOT be able to leverage the new features of the Nehalem-EX.

Many Cloud computing vendors will soon look into the new Intel chip, and why wouldn’t they? The Nehalem-EX offers so many new reliability features, an impressive performance and an increased amount of RAM that can be handled.

With lower clock rates (for now), but more cores per CPU, 24MB of L3 cache and features previously only available in the Itanium, the new Nehalem-EX chip is one of the top processors on the market. That may slightly change with the AMD’s new 12 core monster “Magny Cours” chip, but until then the Nehalem-EX is the extreme performer on the market especially if you are running a virtual environment or offer Saas, IaaS, PaaS services to your clients and users.