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Red Hat and Intel: Smart processors, virtualization boost efficiency and performance

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On Monday March 30, Intel announced the availability of their much anticipated new line of processors, the Intel® Xeon® Processor 5500 series–nicknamed Nehalem.

Red Hat, a long-time partner of the market-leading chip maker , collaborated on the chip’s debut, testing and optimizing the recently released Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® 5.3 on the new processor.

Changes include a new processor architecture, platform architecture, memory subsystem, I/O subsystem, and options (including SSD and 10GbE).

So what’s the big deal? Why all the fuss? Here’s just a few of the improvements wrought by the combination of Intel’s processing power and Red Hat advancements in performance and efficiency.

Improved performance

According to Stream performance data, the new Intel Xeon 5500 series processor delivers a 2.25 times performance improvement, when compared to the performance of the preceding processor series (the Intel Xeon 5400). This allows the new processor to handle datacenter workloads at nearly twice the efficiency.

Intelligent performance

The processor can dynamically adapt throughput to the workload. Intel Hyper-Threading Technology lets system administrators increase workloads and add capabilities without slowing the system down—there’s plenty of reserve for usage peaks. Expanded physical server limits in Enterprise Linux 5.3 (255 CPUs and 1 TB main memory) improve system scalability dramatically.

Virtualization

Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) deliver high consolidation ratios. These virtualization enhancements provide greater scalability and performance, and allow for the virtualization of a wide range of workloads, even those that are I/O intensive.

Automated energy efficiency

The combination of technologies supports low-latency changes between power states. This can help lower power consumption during off-peak hours . Integrated power gates and memory controllers deliver energy efficiency from the hardware side, while enhanced power management and CPU clock frequency scaling help conserve power from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux side.

Red Hat and Intel have a long history of working together to take open source technology to its full potential. Whether it’s combined open source contributions or corporate partnerships, the x86 platform and the open source software revolution have changed the face of computing. Integrated virtualization—and continued rapid improvements in processor technology—keeps the changes coming.

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