Intel's new Xeon E5-2600 CPUs are hot off the wafers and here to provide "breakthrough I/O innovation." You might be thinking, "How exciting can a new set of processors be?" I'm here to tell you, pretty darn exciting. If you're at all interested in the future of cloud and virtualization technologies, check out what this silicon can do.

I'll keep it in plain English. The new family of Xeon E5-2600 CPUs now include:
  • Data Center Power: These new Xeons can sport up to eight cores per CPU and address 768GB of RAM, making these CPUs especially powerful when placed in dual- and quad-CPU server configurations.
  • High Performance Per-Watt Ratio: The Xeon E5-2600 series promises to deliver more than 50 percent power efficiency over its predecessor, the Xeon 5600 series.
  • Intel Inside: No surprises here, Intel has included Turbo Boost 2.0, hyper-threading, virtualization and Intel Advanced Vector Extension capabilities, all of which work together to squeeze out as much computing power from each CPU as possible, whether it's hosting a cloud service or crunching financial figures.
  • Intel Integrated I/O: When Xeons are placed in servers that use Intel's own Ethernet controllers and other I/O adapters, data can be actively rerouted around the system and CPU, allowing for a more efficient use of data and processing power when dealing with large volumes of network information. Short and sweet: less congestion, larger bandwidth capabilities.
  • Integrated I/O with PCI Express 3.0: Xeon CPUs now can handle "triple the movement of data" between the components in a PCI Express slot and the back into the CPU, according to Intel. That means fewer bottlenecks and faster translation of information inside the the guts of the computer. (As a reminder, PCI Express slots can carry everything from advanced rendering graphics cards to Fibre Channel interfaces.)
  • Encryption Capabilities: These Xeons feature Intel's Advanced Encryption Standard New Instruction, which allows for complex encrypted data to be decrypted in hardware on the fly, allowing for super-speed in either protecting information or making it available once it is encrypted.
All of these on-chip features and capabilities make Intel's latest Xeon lineup especially tantalizing for anyone from system builders to SMB owners. All of these chips have a potential to deliver serious performance, be it on someone's cloud or virtualization server, or an SMB's on-premise file server or firewall. Even if you're a VAR who leaves system-building to a vendor or distributor, knowing what these chips are capable of can help you help your customers make more educated decisions about their hardware.

When can system integrators and VARs start to see these red-hot chips? Intel is planning 17 different versions of these CPUs, according to Intel, with specifications that put the price at anywhere between $198 and $2,050. Intel hasn't disclosed an official launch date, but most likely they are generally available now. Meanwhile, check out AMD's agressive moves buying SeaMicro, the once Intel-only cloud server company. Can AMD counter Intel with Opteron servers as Intel continually improves its silicon? Let me know how you see it in the comments.