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RealTime IT News

Intel Takes 'Modular' Approach

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- As Intel continues to woo developers with its chipmaking prowess, the company Wednesday said the true competitive advantage in IT lies within its "modular" strategy.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company says a combination of wired and wireless products with its own brand of servers, networks and storage will help companies save money and keep flexible.

"The Internet continues to drive the convergence of communications and traditional computing, and it's changing the way IT managers set-up their enterprise infrastructure," said Intel Senior Vice President Mike Fister. "Intel and the developer community must continue to address the changing requirements of enterprise customers by focusing on standards-based technologies."

The No. 1 chipmaker said it is preparing for this by asking developers to tweak its Xeon processors for modular data centers - IT operations that are designed to house a variety of interchangeable, standards-based communications and computing equipment.

The Xeon chips due out later this year sport 533 MHz system buses for two-processor servers and workstations. Intel's Xeon processor MP for multi-processor platforms, codenamed "Gallatin" and also planned for introduction later this year, is expected to let companies expand or contract their projects easier than before.

"Mixing and matching wireless and wired networks with any server, storage or client device keeps corporations more nimble as they expand globally," said Intel Executive Vice President Sean Maloney. If IT is truly a competitive tool, then secure and standards-based modular deployment strategies are a great way to stay ahead of the competition."

Intel is also toting its 2-to-64-way Itanium 2-based systems as great blank slates where developers can dream up the next "killer app." Slowly, hardware vendors like HP, IBM, SGI, Unisys and NEC are rolling out Itanium 2 products with Microsoft, Red Hat, Oracle, IBM, BEA,SAP and SAS backing up the initiative on the software end.

Fister reiterated that the next member of the Itanium 2 processor family, codenamed "Madison," is due in the summer of 2003 and should out perform its current Itanium chips between 30 and 50 percent.

Intel Wednesday also disclosed information about the new TCP/IP offload engine (TOE) technology that it plans to incorporate in future generations of iSCSI, TCP/IP offload, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet solutions, beginning in 2003.

The TOE technology processes the many layers of network protocols required to transport data. Offloading these transport functions from the host processor enables wire-speed performance, reduces power requirements and frees the host processor to focus on other applications for platforms operating up to and beyond 10 Gbps. Intel said its silicon-based TOE technology should outperform firmware-based solutions and take up less power to boot.

On the storage side, Intel said retrieving data anytime, anywhere from a variety of devices is compounded by the steady growth of data repositories used to accommodate multiple applications from medical imaging to video e-mail.

To that end, the company unveiled four new controllers for redundant array of independent disk (RAID) systems that help protect data by writing data across several disks.

The Intel RAID Controller SRCZCR (US$250) is a card featuring Ultra160 and Ultra320 SCSI, and Serial ATA compatibility. The SRCZCU42L (US$475) is a two-channel Ultra320-SCSI RAID controller for high-density servers. The Intel RAID Controller SRCS14L and SRCFC22/M/C family will be generally available in the fourth quarter and cost $299 and $1,550 to $2,050 per unit.

The SRCS14L is a four-port Serial ATA RAID controller and the SRCFC22/M/C is a family of 2-Gigabit-per-second (Gbps) Fibre-Channel RAID controllers with the capability to support up to 252 devices in a dual-loop configuration at varying RAID levels.

"This dilemma is placing demands for creative ways to merge computing and communications technologies for solutions that provide quick, secure access of data over corporate networks and the Internet," said Maloney.