Intel is releasing its first quad-core processor for embedded systems and plans to ship its first system-on-a-chip for small form-factor devices in 2008.
At the Embedded Systems Conference Silicon Valley 2007, the Santa Clara, Calif., chip giant announced the availability of the Quad Core Xeon E5335 and E5345 processors, based on the Xeon 5300 Series, and a rack-mount server based on the Xeon 5335 called the Intel IP Network Server NSC2U. The server board is designed for VPNs, intrusion-detection systems and gateways.
The quad-core E5335 and E5345 processors, offered in 2 GHz and 2.33 GHz version, start at $690 in quantities of 1,000, Intel said.
The embedded quad-core processor is identical to the quad-cores shipped to the general business market, but the new SKU comes with a five-year guaranteed lifecycle and a technical team that helps customers design for challenging applications and low-power needs, said Doug Davis, vice president in Intel's Digital Enterprise Group and general manager of the company's embedded and communications group.
Davis said Intel first offered dual-core for the embedded market last year and is now offering quad-core for many manufacturers that need top performance for embedded applications and smaller form-factor devices.
"We're seeing a trend more toward general-purpose processors for a wide range of applications and low-power form factors," said Davis, who delivered a keynote at the San Jose, Calif., conference on Tuesday.
Davis noted that he's also seeing more use of general-purpose operating systems such as Linux and some use of Windows, as well as emerging standards for the embedded market, and he expects to see a growing ecosystem of service partners as the market moves out of the proprietary realm.
At the conference, Microsoft announced big gains in the retail point-of-sale market and showed off its recently released Windows Embedded CE 6.0, Windows XP Embedded Service Pack 2, Windows Vista for Embedded Systems and the .Net Micro Framework.
As Intel develops new boards for new embedded application form factors, the company is also making progress on its plans for a system-on-a-chip (SOC), in which all components -- the processor, memory controller and I/O controller -- are consolidated on a single chip.
Intel consolidated the three chips into a two-chip set offering but expects to have a single chipset in volume production in 2008, Davis told CRN.
"It's much more geared toward the embedded and communications space," he said, noting Intel will disclose more about its SOC road map at Intel Developers Conference later this month.
In February, rival Advanced Micro Devices announced the addition of next-generation Opteron and Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processors to the AMD64 Longevity Program, the release of its new AMD Geode LX900 chip at 1.5 watts and several new reference kits for high-end and low-power embedded needs, including Geode LX kits for NAS, ultra-value clients and Advanced TCA blades.