IBM, Others Follow Intels Dual-Core Lead

At IDF, IBM and Acer announce a new systems designed to take advantage of Intel's dual-core capabilities, while BEA abandoned its premium dual-core pricing in favor of charging per socket.

Systems and software makers are following Intel Corp.s lead down the road to dual-core computing.

The giant chip maker, at its Intel Developer Forum this week in San Francisco, is highlighting a product road map in which dual- and multicore processors play a central role.

Intel partners are showing their enthusiasm for the technology as well. Such chips feature multiple cores on a single piece of silicon, essentially offering significantly greater performance in the same space as single-core processors.

In other news from the show, BEA Systems Inc. announced it is backing off from charging a 25 percent premium for dual-core processors and instead intends to charge on a per-socket basis.

RISC architectures, such as IBMs Power and Sun Microsystems Inc.s SPARC, have offered dual-core capabilities for several years. Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Intels rival in the x86 field, offers dual-core Opteron chips for servers and Athlon 64 processors for PCs.

Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., offers dual-core Pentiums—including the Pentium D for desktops and low-end servers—and is scheduled to begin shipping dual-core Xeons and Itaniums for servers later this year.

/zimages/6/28571.gifIntel is rewriting its processor road map to deliver more power-efficient, dual-core and even quad-core chips. Click here to read more.

At the show Wednesday, IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., is announcing a new server and workstation designed to take advantage of Intels dual-core capabilities. The four-way xSeries 260 server is a 7U (12.25-inch) system that is dual-core capable once those Xeon processors are available. It is based on Intels 64-bit "Cranford" Xeon MP architecture.

It also features IBMs X3 Architecture technology, which is designed to help bring mainframe-based capabilities to the companys Intel-based multiprocessor servers.

Jay Bretzmann, director of IBMs xSeries high-performance division, said the x260 is being targeted at small and midsize businesses and remote or branch locations. It has the same performance characteristics as the smaller x366, but because of its larger size, it offers more storage capability—up to 3.6 terabytes of local storage on up to 12 3.5-inch SCSI hard disk drives.

"Its designed to be an all-in-one type of server," Bretzmann said.

It will be available in mid-September, starting at $4,599.

Also next month, IBM will start shipping the IntelliStation M Pro 6218 workstation, which will be armed with Intels dual-core Pentium D chips, said Stuart McRae, xSeries marketing manager.

It also will mark the first workstation designed and tested by IBMs xSeries server teams, McRae said. A trend in the workstation space has been customers—as tasks such as digital content creation or electrical design become more complex and compute-intensive—using their workstations in conjunction with servers to offload processes, he said. Folding the workstation teams in with the server engineers enables IBM to offer greater integration and interoperability between workstations and servers, and also increases the reliability of the IntelliStation as they are subjected to server-style testing.

This approach will be adopted for all of IBMs workstations going forward, including the Opteron-based A Pro and high-end Intel Z Pro systems. The M Pro 6218 will start at $1,479.

Next Page: Acer rolls out dual-core-powered desktop.