AMD, for its part, has criticized Intels shared bus approach, as its AMD Opteron already uses a point-to-point connection, known as Hypertransport. Intel executives have said they view the shared bus as a trade-off of sorts and use other features, such as larger on-board memory or cache, to augment performance. From the AMD point of view, "We need to see a lot more details before we can say this [new Intel bus] is going to be great for Opteron or its not going to be great for Opteron," Haff said.Dell, for its part, has chosen to offer only dual-core Xeon chips. The company recently dropped Itanium and said it will focus on offering 64-bit-capable, dual-core Xeon chips. However, HP and IBM each offer a mix of Intel Xeon- and AMD Opteron-based servers. Sun also offers a line of Sun Fire AMD Opteron machines. AMD, which has been gaining market share with its Opteron chip, has yet to unveil its plans for 2007. But its expected to offer multicore processors as well, following on its dual-core chips, which are available now. The chip maker has said that it will update its dual-core Opterons with its Pacifica virtualization technology and a DDR2 memory controller in 2006 as well. Intels remaining Xeon chip plans, which the company detailed earlier this year at its fall Intel Developer Forum, are unchanged, McLaughlin said. But, aside from pushing Montecito back, the chip will see other slight changes, including a bus speed changeits bus will run at 533MHz versus 667MHz at firstand the deletion of a performance-enhancing feature called Foxton Technology. Foxton will be added to future Itaniums, however, he said. The delay of Montecito appears to affect the launch of Montvale, the successor to Montecito, which will now arrive in 2007, and Tukwila, Montvales four-core successor. Whereas Intel had said Montvale would come out in late 2006, it will hit the market in 2007 and Tukwila will bow in 2008. Still, "This is a fairly minor delay and because the systems Itanium goes into have such a long development cycle, this should not affect things greatly," said Dean McCarron, analyst with Mercury Research Inc. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.
Indeed, the changes appear to be designed to help Intel guard against AMDs Opteron and thus could translate into benefits for Intel processor server manufacturers such as Dell Inc. Those companies are likely to seize upon the new chip as a way to continue offering higher-performance multiprocessor servers.