Eurocom Packs Eight-core Intel Xeon E5 Chip Into Laptop

PC maker Eurocom has crammed some of the latest server technologies, including an eight-core Intel Xeon processor, into a laptop that the company calls a "mobile server."

The Panther 4.0 laptop is not featherweight as the MacBook Air or thin and light ultrabooks available today, but packs server equipment into a laptop chassis and could be a mobile version of entry-level servers. The laptop has a 17.3-inch screen and weighs 12.1 pounds (5.5 kilograms).

The laptop has Intel's recently introduced Xeon E5-2690 server chip, which is generally targeted at tower, rack or blade servers for tasks ranging from cloud to high-end computing. The laptop measures 419 millimeters (16.76 inches) in width, 286mm (11.44 inches) in depth and between 57.9mm (2.28 inches) and 62.1mm (2.44 inches) in height.

A basic US$4,662 laptop configuration has a Xeon E5-2690 eight-core chip running at 2.9GHz, 500GB hard drive, Nvidia GTX 580M graphics card, three USB 3.0 ports, a two-megapixel webcam, DVD-RW drive, media card reader and Wi-Fi.

The mobile servers are ideal for professionals "who frequently travel yet need access to high-performance computing," Eurocom said in a statement. The laptop can also be a server replacement for disaster recovery or mobile engineering teams working on remote sites, the company said.

The laptop also provides up to 4TB of storage through multiple slots and up to 32GB of DDR3 DRAM with four memory sockets. However the memory capacity doesn't match up to traditional servers, which in some cases go up to 768GB.

Laptops running cutting-edge equipment like Intel's desktop gaming chips usually get hot and have multiple fans to dissipate the heat. These machines are built for performance and not battery life.

"The battery is more of a uninterrupted power supply, to ensure that if the power goes out you will have power again. With the power in these systems, expecting to run on battery for long periods of time isn't a good idea," said Braden Taylor, a Eurocom spokesman, in an e-mail.

The combination of more bandwidth, memory and storage make Panther 4.0 good for virtualization, the company said. Servers have had bandwidth issues when deploying virtual machines, but the new machines should offer a larger pipe to deploy virtual machines quicker.

Intel introduced the Xeon E5 chips last month, and the company said that the new chips are up to 80 percent faster than predecessors introduced in March 2010. One of the improvements with the chip was support for PCI-Express 3.0, which provides more bandwidth for data to loop quicker inside computers.

Servers populated with many solid-state disk drives could benefit from the faster data transfers provided by PCI-Express 3.0, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64. But it's hard to see the laptop with a few storage slots benefitting from PCIe 3.0, Brookwood said.

The laptop is more a workstation than a server, and security could also be a concern, Brookwood said.

"Servers bolted into racks are a lot harder to steal than servers that can be dropped into suitcases," Brookwood said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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