Before the month is out, Intel Corp. will make good on its February promise to roll out new Xeon microprocessors and platforms within 90 days, according to sources, enhancing its offerings for the enterprise server space and giving it an edge in competition with AMD and its Opteron microprocessor line.
The platforms will set the stage for dual-core Xeon MP microprocessors, which Intel expects to introduce later in the year, and a range of dual-core offerings that are in the works.
Intel first discussed the new Xeon MP micros and platforms at the Intel Developer Forum in September.
One of the new Xeon MP processors, code-named Cranford, will set a new price point for four-way SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) servers, as Intel explained in a February press release.
The Potomac microprocessor, in turn, will provide a sizable 8 MB L3 cache.
Both are rumored to be announced at a press conference during the week of March 28.
An Intel spokesman declined to comment on this.
The chips associated platform, publicallly labeled the Truland platform by Intel, will make use of the E8500 Twin Castle chip set and provide high-end servers with Intels Extended Memory 64 Technology, a faster front-side bus than previous offerings (667MHz vs. 400MHz), PCI Express, DDR2-400 memory, enhanced demand-based switching and support for dual-core Xeon MP processors.
The Xeon MP was first introduced in March 2002 in 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6GHz versions featuring Intels Hyperthreading technology and an on-chip L3 cache with up to 1 MB of memory capacity.
Since then, the company has fielded a number of new versions running at 1.9, 2.5, 2.7 and 2.8GHz with up to 2 MB of L3 cache, as well as a 3GHz Xeon MP with 4 MB of L3 cache.
Twin Castle, which provides support for four-way SMP, was also specifically designed to handle dual-core processors such as the Paxville, a dual-core Xeon MP micro slated for late 2005 or early 2006 introduction.
"With our platform approach, we design and validate products together, enabling us to deliver IT benefits beyond gigahertz to help companies save power and money, increase security and improve productivity," said Abhi Talwalkar, vice president and general manager of Intel Digital Enterprise Group.
At the same time, the company signaled its dual-core and, indeed, its multicore intentions in a press release.
"Later this year, Intel will deliver thousands of seed systems based on dual-core Intel Xeon MP processors to end users and software developers for evaluation," along with "a complete set of software development tools and industry-enabling programs to better help developers and end users take advantage of the increased performance and throughput that dual-core and subsequent multicore products will offer."
Meanwhile, on the software side, Microsoft has geared up for the new platforms with its Windows Server operating system: Two Microsoft documents on Cranford and Potomac are resident on Intels Web site, though they are not yet publicly accessible.
As far as server vendors are concerned, IBM has publicly discussed a new low-cost four-way server it has crafted based on the Cranford Xeon MP processor, and sources suggested that Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell will not be far behind.