Xeon Getting Smaller, Faster, Powerful


Intel is positioning its new server processor, the Pentium III Xeon built with a 0.13-micron process, as a chip that will boost its efforts in the ultra-dense server space.

The new processors, which ship at a speed of 1.4GHz, are priced at $315 in 1,000-unit quantities, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip maker said.

 
New pentium III Xeon processors running at 1.4GHz cost only $315 in 1,000-lot quantities.

"We're seeing a lot of continued demand [in the channel for 1u and 2u servers," said Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel's Enterprise Platform and Services Division. "This processor fits right into that strategy."

Because the chip is built with a 0.13-micron process,vs. the 0.18-micron process of old,it generates less heat and uses less energy.

"With 1.4GHz fitting into a 1u form factor, and with 32-high in a rack,what we're able to do is get 40 percent less power on 0.13 and up to 20 percent faster [performance," Skaugen said.

Some solution providers agreed that the new chip would be a plus in the ultra-dense server space.

"I know that it will help us in the long run," said Sean McClelland, CEO of 1u-Rackmount-Servers.com, a Carlsbad, Calif., solution provider that specializes in ultra-dense systems. In the short term, the new chips will allow the company to build denser servers, he said.

Intel unveiled its new 0.13-micron PIII processors soon after it began the official rollout of its 0.13-based Pentium 4 "Northwood" chips. The new server chips, like the Pentium 4s, will double the amount of Level 2 cache in the system to 512 Kbytes, creating a further performance boost, said Intel executives.

In addition, Intel is still on track to move to the next generation of server processor,the latest Xeon,within the next several weeks, said Skaugen. With that launch, Intel will retire the PIII line.

"We're on track in [the first quarter to launch the Xeon for dual-processor and multiprocessor configurations for servers," he said.

At $315, the new PIII becomes Intel's highest-priced, 32-bit server processor, ahead of the 1.2GHz PIII ($241), the 1.13AGHz and 1.1GHz ($173), and the 1GHz ($143). All prices are based on 1,000-unit quantities.

"Definitely, processors are getting as cheap as they've been," McClelland said.

Almost simultaneously, Intel began shipping two new desktop boards, the D845BG and the D845PT, both of which will support DDR (Double Data Rate) memory on the Pentium 4 desktop platform.