RealTime IT News

Intel Bows 1.7 GHz Workstation Chip

Despite a widely acknowledged slowdown in spending for computers, chipmakers are unwavering in their attempts to bring more powerful chips to market. For the second straight week, Intel Corp. announced a new processor; this one is geared to power high-end and mid-range workstations.

Based on the company's NetBurst architecture, the newly-born Intel Xeon processors ship at frequencies up to 1.7 gigahertz (GHz) and the company is placing its bet that it will boost performance between 30 and 90 percent, depending on applications and configurations.

Xeon processors deliver processing power for video, audio and 3-D graphics for workstations. Xeon processor platforms are based on the Intel 860 chipset, which feature dual RDRAM memory banks to complement the Intel Xeon's 400 MHz system bus, which provides up to 3.2 gigabytes (GB) of data per second.

Intel believes platforms with Xeon will be ready to roll in the latter half of 2001, with the usual suspects -- Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp. Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp. -- shipping the platforms this quarter. The Intel Xeon processor at 1.7 GHz is priced at $406, the 1.5 GHz version at $309 and the 1.4 GHz at $268 in 1,000-unit quantities

Intel and chief rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) could use all of the positive news they can fetch as analysts have been forced to pay attention to a rather stagnant period in PC purchasing.

In fact, Merrill Lynch's Joe Osha Monday lowered estimates on both companies in light of the sluggish market. Doubting that margins will significantly improve by 2002, Osha said rising depreciation would remain a challenge for Intel. As for AMD, Osha was even less optimistic, noting that investors don't need to buy AMD stock as numbers continue to soften for the younger chip firm.

Still, these firms have showed some determination to focus on the pros with an eye toward the future of technology. AMD last week debuted a new notebook chip while Intel recognized that different chips are needed to handle communications, memory and processing in cell phones, handheld computers and other wireless devices by unveiling a technology that can put all three functions onto a single semiconductor, thereby reducing the size of wireless gadgets and boosting performance. Think of this as a grand slam of sorts for Intel; it is the first firm to come forward and combine microprocessor, digital signal processor (DSP), analog capabilities and high-complexity flash memory into a single chip. This four-in-one achievement will be difficult to duplicate

Intel's wireless endeavors also received support from the U.K.'s leading telco as it also secured a significant deal with British Telecommunications plc. to develop wireless applications and systems for the giant.

If one is to take advertising seriously, any doubts as to whether or not Intel is taking the future of computing seriously may be cast aside as the chipmaker also announced Monday its intent to embark on an ad campaign championing the future of "large-scale enterprise computing." With a "macroprocessing" theme in tow, Intel is touting the benefits of the microprocessor and how volume economics, performance leadership and industry innovation are meeting the demands and of servers across the enterprise.

How will they do this? For instance, the campaign uses comparisons, such as a jet ski with an ocean liner and a set of headphones with a wall of speakers, to underscore the difference between personal and enterprise-class computing.

The multi-million dollar campaign, for which specific spending was notdisclosed, will include print, outdoor, and online advertising elements. Print advertisements will begin May 23 in the U.S. Ads will appear in Asia and Latin American in June and in Europe in September.