Intel Expands Its Vision for Servers

Servers' performance isn't just about speed anymore, the chip maker says.

SAN FRANCISCO—Intel Corp. wants to stuff an information technology assistant into its silicon.

The chip maker, at its fall Intel Developer Forum here, described developments in its line of chips for businesses that it says will, all at once, improve management, lower power consumption and improve performance of desktops and, particularly, servers.

The company on Wednesday announced partnerships with Cisco Systems Inc. and Skype Technologies S.A. in order to improve network management and boost the performance Skypes VOIP (voice over IP) service while running on Intel hardware.

The partnerships, although varied, show the general direction in which the chip makers efforts to develop new hardware for businesses are now headed.

Instead of focusing on adding clock speed or bumping up cache sizes in order to increase business machines performance, Intel has instead focused on delivering multicore processors—its future dual-core chips will also use less electricity, a major consideration for businesses that operate large server farms—and incorporating extra features, such as virtualization and hardware management technology.

Its also working to pave the way for the use of new applications such as VOIP to run on its desktops and server platforms.

The company will package all of the various initiatives, some of which are already available for desktops, into its server platforms during 2006, said Pat Gelsinger, general manager of Intels Digital Enterprise Group, during a keynote address Wednesday morning.

Gelsinger joked about capturing Stacy Smith, Intels CIO, in silicon. But at least some of the CIOs job can be tackled by the new Intel server hardware, which will offer features such as Intels Active Management Technology, Virtualization Technology and I/O (input/output) Acceleration Technology, he said.

Dubbed AMT, the active management technology can track hardware assets and help with diagnosing problems.

Thus far, Intel has mainly worked with companies such as Computer Associates Inc. to allow their software to work with AMT.

But on Wednesday, Cisco Systems Inc. announced plans to support the AMT with its hardware. Lenovo Group Ltd. also announced plans to support AMT in its desktops as well, this week.

Next Page: Virtualization software.