Intel to Double Its Dual-Core Xeons

The chip maker will introduce next week another dual-core Xeon chip, this one for servers with four processors or higher.

Intel Corp. is expected to launch its second dual-core server processor, next week.

The Santa Clara, Calif. chip maker will roll out its first dual core Xeon MP processor for multiprocessor servers—machines with four or more processors—on Tuesday, Nov. 1, said sources familiar with the plan.

The chip, which will become the Xeon 7000 series under a new model numbering scheme, is expected to run at speeds up to 3GHz.

Server makers such as Dell Inc., Gateway Inc. and IBM are all likely to quickly add the new chips to their four-socket server models, which are generally used for hosting databases or for server consolidation.

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The new Xeons double up on processor cores, a chip design measure for boosting performance without having to crank up clock speeds.

Technologies such as multiple processing cores and hardware virtualization will continue to be a focus for chip makers looking to improve performance over the long term without significantly boosting power consumption, which drive up costs for both electricity and cooling.

Intel, which has said its goal is now to eke out greater performance per watt of power consumed by its chips, plans to roll out a number of new dual core server chips in 2006 and 2007.

However, despite rolling out its dual core Xeon chips months ahead of its original schedule, the chip maker has hit at least one bump with its Itanium chip.

It said earlier this week that Montecito, its forthcoming dual core Itanium 2 processor, will be delayed by a period of months. Citing quality concerns, the company will push back the chips introduction from early 2006 to mid-2006, an Intel spokesman said.

Several manufacturers who use Itanium in their servers, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Fujitsu LTD, said that their plans were unchanged. Both said they will offer Montecito chips in their servers when the chips are released.

"I dont see it as earthshattering," said Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata Inc., in Nashua, N.H.

"You dont want to see things slip, but at the end of the day, if Montecito gets delivered per this revised schedule and the performance increase is in the range of what Intel has talked about [a two-times increase], it will still give [OEMs like HP] a competitive high-end processor offering."

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about Intels Itanium delay.

On the other hand, its Xeon DP, which arrived Oct. 10, and the Xeon 7000 series, expected next week, were originally planned for introduction in early 2006.

The company pulled in the introduction of the chips, saying their development was healthy enough to allow them to ship early.

Intel aims to offer several more updates for the two Xeon lines in 2006 and 2007.

Starting early next year, the company will roll out a new dual core Xeon DP processor, dubbed Dempsey, which fits into a new server platform called Bensley.

The platform, which includes an enabling chipset and other elements needed to build a server, will also work with a follow-on processor, Woodcrest, which will replace Dempsey in the second half of 2006.

Meanwhile, in Xeon MP processor platforms, Tulsa will replace Paxville MP in the latter half of 2006. The Tulsa chip will fit into the existing Truland platform, which is shipping now, for servers.

Caneland, a new Xeon MP platform, which comes with a processor dubbed Tigerton, will follow in 2007. Tigerton, a new multicore Xeon MP, will replace Whitefield, a chip which was originally to follow Tulsa in 2007.

Intel made the changes in order to offer greater performance in the Xeon line, the company said.

The new Intel dual core Xeons come as its chief rival, Advanced Micro Devices Inc., appears to be continuing to make progress in servers.

The chip maker, which passed 10 percent of x86 server processor shipments for the first time in the second quarter, increased its share again in the third quarter to over 12 percent, a company spokesman said.

AMD has been offering its dual core Opteron server chip since April.

AMD, Sunnyvale, Calif., gained 1.6 points of market share during the third quarter to give it 17.8 percent of x86 processor shipments, according to a report published by trade paper DigiTimes, which cites figures from a recent report by Mercury Research Inc.

Intel, on the other hand, slipped 1.4 points to 80.8 percent of the x86 market, the report, cited by DigiTimes, said.

The x86 architecture is the basis for the chips, including Intel and AMD Pentiums, Athlons, Xeons and Opterons, which most PCs and many computer servers use.

Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research, declined to comment on the figures, saying he did not offer them to the publication.

An Intel spokesperson also declined to comment on unannounced products.

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