Intel Unveils Four-Way Processor

The new Xeon 7000 Series, formerly codenamed "Paxville MP," is the first to ship with Intel's chip-level virtualization technology.

Intel Corp. on Tuesday unveiled its dual-core processor for systems running four or more chips, and more than a dozen OEMs rolled out new or enhanced servers based on the technology.

The new Xeon 7000 Series, formerly codenamed "Paxville MP," is the first to ship with Intels chip-level virtualization technology, although officials dont expect end users to be able to take advantage of it until the first half of 2006.

The four chips, at speeds between 2.66GHz and 3GHz, also initially are being released with a 667MHz dual, independent bus system. Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intels Server Platforms Group, said the series will be refreshed early next year to include an 800MHz bus.

Prices range from $1,177 to $3,157 per 1,000 units shipped.

Intels rollout of the 7000 Series follows its release on Oct. 10 of is dual-core Xeon DP for systems with one or two processors. Both were released months ahead of schedule, as Intel battles rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc., which released its dual-core Opterons in April.

At a press conference Tuesday that included Intel and Microsoft Corp., Dell Inc., of Round Rock, Texas, announced that its four-socket PowerEdge 6800 and 6850 systems will ship with the new Xeon 7000 chips. It was part of a larger announcement by Dell that spanned new database capabilities on its PowerEdge servers.

Neil Hand, vice president of worldwide enterprise marketing for Dell Product Group, said Dell will offer Microsofts upcoming SQL Server 2005 directly to customers, either preloaded onto PowerEdge systems or afterwards. In addition, the database can be managed from a single console due to tight integration of Dells OpenManage software with Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 and Microsoft Operations Manager 2005. Dell also is extending its services offerings to help users deploy SQL Server 2005, which is due Nov. 7, in their environments.

Dell isnt the only OEM to bring the new Xeon 7000 series chips to their systems. IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., on Tuesday announced its four-socket xSeries 460 and 366 servers. The x460 can scale from a four-processor server to up to 32 processors.

Gateway Inc. of Irvine, Calif., will make the dual-core Xeons an option on its existing four-socket 9715 system. In addition, Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif., next week will roll out two systems, the ProLiant DL580 G3 & ML570 G3. In the first quarter of 2006, HP will upgrade those systems with the 800MHz versions of the chips.

Multicore technology puts two or more processing cores on a single piece of silicon, enabling end users to get a boost in performance without corresponding bumps in processor size or power consumption.

Intels Skaugen said the Intel Virtualization Technology will be first shipped on the new chips, but that end users wont be able to use the technology until next year, following the certification of the technology by such virtualization software vendors as VMware Inc., Microsoft and XenSource Inc. Once certified, users will be able to turn the capability on through a BIOS switch.

Hand said Dell customers will be able to turn it on after the first of the year.

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The virtualization technology will appear in Xeon DP chips in the first quarter 2006, and in "Montecito"—the first dual-core Itanium processor—when it is released in the middle of the year. Initially targeted for early 2006, Montecito was delayed for several months, with an Intel spokesman citing quality issues as the reason for the delay.

AMD also is scheduled to release its own hardware virtualization technology, dubbed "Pacifica," in its Opteron processors next year.

In addition, Skaugen said Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., is on schedule to release the next version of the dual-core Xeon MP chip, codenamed "Tulsa," in the second half of 2006. Samples of the chip, which will be built on Intels 65-nanometer manufacturing process and will offer 16MB of shared Level3 cache, will go out to customers for evaluation by the end of this year, he said.

By the end of 2006, Skaugen said he expects 85 percent of server chips shipped by Intel will be dual-core.

Editors Note: This story was updated to correct information on the release timing for the code-name Tulsa chip. It will arrive by the end of 2006.

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