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New Intel Xeons To Ship Ahead Of Schedule

Intel plans to release ahead of schedule its next generation of server-based Xeon processors, along with a new DDR-compatible chipset, according to sources familiar with the company's road map.

As the vendor prepares for its biannual Intel Developer Forum this week, its revised strategy calls for the new Xeon chips to be available ahead of schedule at frequencies greater than 2.4GHz, the speed of the current processors, sources said. Initially, the company planned to ship the new processors early next year.

Even before the formal introduction of the new Xeon processors, one U.K.-based solution provider, Xinit Systems, last week began offering Intel Xeon servers at 2.6GHz and 2.8GHz that support double data rate (DDR) memory. Xeon processors with speeds of up to 2.4GHz have, until now, supported only RDRAM.

Intel executives declined to comment on the new server or chipset offerings. However, the news was welcomed by some solution providers, who said the price-performance boost could spur new business.

There wasn't enough of a performance difference between Pentium III systems and earlier Xeons to pique interest in new purchases, said Paul Scheremeta, vice president of marketing at Ion Computer, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based solution provider.

"People are a little reluctant to make any significant [system change, but the [current Xeon price is relatively on par with the old Pentium III," Scheremeta said. "People are saying, 'Let's make a move' because of that."

Some solution providers said they believe Intel's aggressive Xeon rollout will help provide a bridge from current 32-bit technology to Intel's 64-bit Itanium processors, which some expect to ship in greater volume next year.

In addition to the Xeon news, Intel is expected to show off new features in its forthcoming Banias processor for mobile PCs,including the Odem chipset that was designed specifically for the new, energy-saving platform.

Intel executives also said that at least 10 major system vendors plan to demonstrate solutions based on Itanium 2 processors, as OEMs slowly begin to adopt the 64-bit platform.

Ahead of the conference, Intel shares last week fell to a six-year low. And during its midquarter update last week, the company slightly lowered sales expectations for the third quarter.

The chip giant also recently announced that it plans to spin off its Intel Software Products and Services Division, which produces LANDesk software. LANDesk Acquisition, a company created by Vector Capital and vSpring Capital, plans to purchase certain assets of that division, including the LANDesk products.

Intel is expected to retain a minority equity position in the new company, which is slated to be headed up by Joe Wang, who most recently served as vice president of Symantec's Enterprise Administration Division.

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