Intel, AMD Prepare Server Upgrades

The chip makers are nearing the launch of new server platforms, which promise greater performance and add-ons such as built-in virtualization.

Chip makers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices are preparing their next round of server processors.

Intel is expected to launch its upgraded Bensley server platform next month at its Intel Developer Forum. Meanwhile, AMD offered a snapshot of a forthcoming Opteron chip, due later this year, at the San Francisco International Solid State Circuits Conference.

The new chips, which will all come to market in machines near the mid-year mark, are designed to raise the performance bar for the servers that are the backbone of corporate data centers.

The chips also serve to continue competition between the two chip makers. The x86 server arena has seen intense competition of late as machines containing AMDs Opteron chip have gained acceptance among businesses, and Intel has moved to counter by upgrading its server processors and rolling out new platforms to support them.

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Intel will get the next round started by introducing the Bensley platform which promises a higher-performing processor and greater memory bandwidth.

A successor to its Lindenhurst platform, Bensley will pair Intels new 65-nanometer, dual-core Dempsey processor and Blackford chip set.

Blackford doubles up on busses and memory channels. It includes twin busses for feeding data into its two processors and four channels for buffered memory modules.

The buffered modules also work to lighten the load on the memory bus, thus aiding performance.

Intel will also include its virtualization, input-output acceleration and management technologies with the platform.

The chip maker is expected introduce the platform at its forum, where it will state the silicon is ready for prime time.

Servers from brand-name manufacturers who are expected to adopt Bensley—companies such as Hewlett-Packard—may not arrive for another 60 to 90 days, however. One person familiar with the matter said to expect them in May.

An Intel spokesperson said the company is on track to ship the Bensley platform in the first quarter. However, he declined to comment on the companys plans.

Intel will also likely discuss Woodcrest, an all new follow-on to Dempsey, at the forum.

Woodcrest chips, which Intel has said will consume considerably less power—about 80 watts, which is significantly lower than existing Xeons—will plug into Bensley platform servers and come out in the second half of the year, the chip maker has said.

Next Page: New line of Opterons.