Xeon Revs Up to 3.06GHz

Intel Monday began shipping en masse two extremely fast versions of its long-awaited Xeon general-purpose server processor.

Coming in speeds of 3.06GHz and 3 GHz, the chips match Intel’s latest Pentium 4 desktop processor with the help of NetBurst Microarchitecture and Hyper-Threading technology.

NetBurst is the basis for Xeons and Pentium 4 chips. Intel uses the refinements to its IA microarchitecture doubles the pipeline depth to 20 stages and includes a 400 MHz System Bus and a Rapid Execution Engine which lets the CPU’s Arithmetic Logic Units (ALUs) run at twice the core frequency.

Intel says Hyper-Threading allows operating systems and applications to view a single physical processor as if it were two processors. The company says it’s similar to watching television while talking on the phone. Intel says that can increase performance of an application by 30 percent.

The new 3.06 GHz Xeon processor features a 512 KB level two cache and a 533 MHz system bus. The Intel Xeon processor at 3 GHz includes a 512 KB level two cache and a 400 MHz system bus. The chips are expected to retail for $722 and $658 respectively in 1,000-unit quantities.

“Intel continues to raise the bar on system performance and manufacturing execution by delivering the first processors to exceed 3 GHz for dual processor servers and workstations to system vendors worldwide,” said Intel Enterprise Platforms Group director of marketing Richard Dracott. “In 2003, we will continue to enhance the Intel Xeon processor family with industry leading performance and scalability.”

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant says the 3.06 GHz Xeon is drop-in compatible with existing systems designed with the Intel E7501 or Intel E7505 chipsets, which have shipped in volume since November 2002, while the Intel Xeon processor at 3 GHz is drop-in compatible with systems designed with the Intel E7500 or Intel 860 chipsets.

Already OEMs are lining up to use the pumped up Xeons. Gateway , for one, said it is using the 3.06GHz processor in its Gateway 960 and Gateway 980 server lines.

Xeon processors are used for Web hosting, data caching, search engines, security and streaming media, and as workstations for digital content creation, mechanical and electrical design, financial analysis, and 3D modeling.

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