Designer Intel Chips Coming

Intel plans to make its future chips more platform and application specific by adding to its list of extensions.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker briefed reporters this week on some of the changes coming to its processors in the next 12 months and beyond. The idea was to provide roadmaps on its chipset plans for enterprise customers.

Ever since the race for
Megahertz and Gigahertz fizzled out
in the semiconductor industry, companies like Intel and AMD have been looking for other ways of differentiating their CPUs in the marketplace.

Intel’s answer is a set of product extensions, which it called its “*T family.” The technologies include Hyper Threading and
Intel’s 64-bit extensions (EM64T), which are already in Pentium and Xeon processors respectively.

Those two will be joined in 2006 with Intel’s
“LaGrande” Technology (LT) for security, Vanderpool/Silverdale
Technology (VT/ST) for virtualization. Both are on a release schedule to
coordinate with Microsoft’s next-generation Windows
OS named Longhorn, which is expected in 2006. Another new extension on the way is Intel’s Active Management Technology (iAMT). First mentioned at Intel’s Fall 2004 developer show, the extension works with the processor to let IT managers remotely access every networked computing system, even one that has powered down an operating system that has locked up or a hard drive that has crashed.

“The success of the x86 architecture has been its flexibility,” Ron Curry, director of technology marketing at Intel, told “It’s a double-edged sword because it is easy to program, but we are getting feedback from users that they need specific types of features for these specific types of applications.”

So Intel is using feedback from users to include new features and
capabilities into Intel silicon. Some examples of areas we are
investigating include 3D and animated graphics, data mining, network
processing, speech recognition and speech synthesis.

Curry said Intel is currently working with one of the largest speech labs in China to mix into their future platforms.

Curry said the fragmentation comes from Intel’s extensive research
that combines user focus groups and “ethnographic” data.

“This is where the R&D and Intel Capital are going to,” Curry said. “It is no longer that you have a significant processor rollout without some type of specialized functions being included. We have a rolling time horizon on where we are going so far and we are looking ahead for at least the next 15 to 25 years.

Even different divisions of the enterprise will have different
attributes. For example, multi-core Itanium and Xeon processors for rack servers, blade servers, and storage will come with Vanderpool and Active Management technologies.

Vanderpool for Itanium should be ready in 2005 while VT for Xeon and Pentium 4 processor based platforms will be available on servers,
workstation and desktop platforms in 2006, Intel said.

Higher performance processors will add in multi threading, Foxton,
PCI Express, DDR2, and fully buffered DIMM . Conversely,
processors that Intel is designing for server manageability will include
Vanderpool’s virtualization technology and multi-core architectures but
will add in attributes like iAMT and CPMP (Cross-Platform Manageability
Program), which is Intel’s program to make manageability interfaces,
features and protocols consistent across Intel-based platforms from
servers to notebooks.

And if that were not diverse enough, processors for automation
servers will have iAMT and CPMP but will also add in Intel’s Pellston
technologies, Demand-Based
Switching (DBS) and Micro Channel Architecture (MCA).

In addition to low-power techniques and 802.11a/b/g compatibility,
Intel is fortifying its top-end Pentium Mobile family with Cisco
compatible extensions. They include 802.11i (Wi-Fi security), LaGrande, Vanderpool iAMT, and XD Bit, an execute disable Intel said it will use for helping stop software based attacks.

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