Intel has previewed a new Xeon processor designed for high-end servers, codenamed "Nehalem EX," that will reportedly feature 8 cores inside a single chip and, thanks to Hyper-Threading, is capable of supporting as many as 16 program threads at the same time. In a briefing today, the company announced that it is on track to enter production of the chip by the end of the year, and expects to be shipping them by early 2010.

Nehalem EX will also double the memory capacity with up to 16 memory slots per processor socket, and offer four high-bandwidth QuickPath Interconnect links, which will allow for four-socket or eight-socket systems with as many as 32 or 64 cores and twice as many threads. Other specs include 24MB of shared L3 cache and support for Turbo Boost to shut down some cores and overclock others on programs that need few code threads.

In comparison with the current four-core and six-core "Dunnington" Xeon 7400 processors, Intel says the new Nehalem EX will deliver up to nine times the memory bandwidth, 2.5 times the database performance, 1.7 times the integer throughput, and 2.2 times the floating-point throughput.