Intel Nudges Enterprise With New Chips

SAN FRANCISCO — Intel is serving a new cache of
server chips, leaving customers who survived the IT jitters of 2003
pondering whether or not to take the leap.

The Santa Clara, chipmaking giant is giving it its best shot by
targeting developers. Company execs Wednesday outlined Intel’s advances for
enterprise environments as part of its bi-annual developer’s forum.

The strategy on the client and enterprise side includes an array of 90-nanometer
Pentium, Xeon and Itanium processors. All of which will be (if they are not
already) 64-bit compatible through extensions by the end of the year.

“This success is not just Intel’s — it is for all of us,” Intel Vice
President and Desktop Platforms Group czar Bill Siu said to developers
attending the company’s bi-annual technology showcase here. “With new
products and services, together we prosper.”

Earlier this week, Intel confirmed
its plans to release the 64-bit extensions for its x86 processor family.

Xeon’s next generation “Nocona” will get the first crack at the extensions
commonly referred to by Intel as “CT”, or Clackamas Technology, beginning
next quarter. The 64-bit Pentium extensions for “Prescott” P4s are expected
to debut sometime mid-year.

And while the debate on whether the IT world is ready for an x86
64-bit infrastructure, all of the advances are meant to motivate operating
systems makers to set the stage for software application developers.

“If you look at the announcements, this is an exciting time for software
developers as they will be looking on how to capitalize on 64-bit
applications,” Framingham, Mass.-based analyst firm IDC vice president of
research Jean Bozman. “A number of things have come together to make it
happen. More bandwidth. More use of PDAs. Some sophistication at the back
end, and that’s where we’re going to see more 64-bit computing, to support
those services.”

While only Microsoft has made the first step with 64-bit trial versions
of Windows XP and Windows Server operating system, Intel said developers can
take solace in its software partitioning Vanderpool Technology (VT) as the
migration tool for running older operating systems and/or applications.

But will customers buy into Intel’s new vision? Intel Senior Vice
President General Manager, Enterprise Platforms Group, Mike Fister, is
convinced the market is finally ready.

“We’ve been planning on this for awhile and our timing was deliberate,”
Fister said. “In the coming several years, we will be working with our
partners to bring this to the enterprise.”

Marketed for high-end systems, Fister announced new points on the Itanium
2 roadmap including “Madison” Itanium 2 processors at 1.4 GHz and 1.6 GHz,
each with three megabytes (MB) of cache, followed by processors codenamed
“Millington” next year.

The first multi-core Itanium 2 processor for dual
processor servers and workstations, codenamed “Dimona,” will follow after
Millington. The first dual-core Itanium 2 processor, codenamed “Montecito,”
is due in 2005, and will be supported by Intel’s third-generation chipset
codenamed “Bayshore.”

The chipset supports PCI Express and double data-rate
(DDR2) memory. Intel also announced new technologies in Montecito codenamed
“Pellston” (cache reliability) and “Foxton” (workload performance)
technologies, respectively.

For its server workhorse chip, Intel said all future Xeon processors
starting with “Nocona,” would automatically include the new 64-bit
extensions. The company said it is releasing its last 32-bit Xeon running at
3.2 GHz with a larger, 2MB cache.

Fister said the next-generation Nocona
Xeon is due in the first half of 2004 and will ship at 3.6 GHz with an 800
MHz FSB and support for DDR2, PCI Express and 64-bit extensions.

Intel also unveiled a new four-way server blade, the Intel Server Compute
Blade SBX44, based on the Intel Xeon processor MP and built in collaboration
with IBM. And, for the rapidly growing small business market segment, Intel
introduced the Intel E7210 chipset, offering enhanced reliability to entry
level, Pentium 4 processor-based servers.

In a show of support, HP, Dell, IBM and NEC said they would back the Xeon
extensions, Dell and HP especially went one step further by avoiding AMD’s
Opteron alternative for now, as well as working with Intel on
support technologies such as fully-buffered DIMM (FBDIMM), DDR2 and PCI
Express. The trio, along with NEC, also announced version 2.0 of the
Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) specification.

On the client side, Intel is standing firm on its “Prescott” Pentium
sitting on a Grantsdale chipset. The platform includes support for dual
display, integrated access points, TPM1.2, high definition audio, stable
image, Gigabit Ethernet, and Matrix RAID .

However, Siu said
future Prescott-based chips would shift from the company’s Hyper-Threading technology
to a multi-threading technology and new processor designs featuring dual
cores (essentially two processors on a single piece of silicon).

Hyper-Threading would be used in concert with Intel’s “No Execute” (NX)
memory protection and the codenamed LaGrande technology (LT) as a security
technology hardwired right on chip die. The NX feature, which is already
available in Intel Itanium 2 processors for servers, will be available in
processors for client-based systems in the second half of 2004.

Siu said Intel is also looking at changing the beige-box landscape with
its new “Balanced Technology Extended,” or BTX. The new desktop form factor,
which sports a huge fan in the front, looks to redefine motherboard sizes
and layouts.

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