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article imageIntel may be working on a 5.1GHz CPU for customers including NSA

By James Walker     Jan 21, 2016 in Technology
A rumour regarding Intel's upcoming range of next-generation processors claims the company may be building one very special chip for its Xeon family. It is said to have a clock speed of 5.1GHz and will be sold to limited customers, including the NSA.
As Overclockers Club reports, rumours of the Xeon E5-2602 V4 suggest Intel may be building the most powerful quad-core processor to date. It is thought to run at 5.1GHz with a 10MB L3 cache and power consumption of 165W, specifications that break from Intel's recent round of efficiency improvements across the board.
If the reports are correct then the Xeon would become Intel's first processor to run faster than 5GHz on each individual core. A usual base clock speed for Xeon chips is between 2.0GHz and 3.5GHz. Rival AMD has one processor capable of achieving 5GHz out of the box, the FX-9590, but only when in turbo mode. It has a usual base clock of 4.7GHz.
Xeon high-performance processors for servers and always-on workstations tend to place a larger focus on core count than raw clock speed to benefit multitasking performance in demanding scenarios. The Xeon E5-2602's 5.1GHz clock would make it one of the fastest processors around but the rumours concerning the chip say PC enthusiasts may never get to see it.
Intel is thought to be working with select partners who will sell the processor to limited numbers of customers. The company won't be making it publicly available in news that is likely to disappoint computer fans who like processors with very high clock speeds.
One of Intel's customers for the Xeon is the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), according to several reports online. The NSA is said to be interested in acquiring an unknown number of very high-performance quad-core processors for use in its server environments. It is unclear what the servers power or why the NSA wants quad-core chips over more conventional Xeons which have lower clock speeds but as many as 24 cores.
Processor cores are often of more importance than raw clock speed as they allow the CPU to work on more operations at one time. When running workloads like server software, this becomes especially important. Adding more cores lets the server process data for more users at a time. The actual work for the processor is usually relatively light so the lower clock speed on each individual core is not a major issue.
The purpose of the quad-core powerhouse Xeon remains clouded in mystery and it seems unlikely the chip will ever break into the public space. Intel does have some high-performance consumer processors coming this year though including a 10-core Broadwell chip thought to run at 3.0GHz.
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