Intel Quality Will Differentiate Bensley Platform

Senior Editor Edward F. Moltzen recently interviewed Kirk Skaugen, general manager of the Intel Server Group, at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. Foremost among the issues addressed by Skaugen was the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company&s forthcoming dual-core processors and supporting technology. Here are excerpts from that interview.

CRN: There have been a number of developments in Intel&s road map and product offerings over the past few months, and you say there will be even more in the coming months. In your opinion, what will be some of the highlights?

SKAUGEN: We continue to talk about the platform transformation of Intel. The Bensley platform is really our next-generation dual-core DP platform. We&ll bring I/O acceleration and Intel Virtualization Technology (VT) and Intel Active Management Technology (IAMT) to market on that platform. So we think that&s the next big thing, if you will. There are transitions to dual independent bus, fully buffered DIMM memory, and we&ll take dual-core top to bottom in Intel&s server product line.

CRN: There are already other dual-core server processors out there. What will differentiate Intel&s from the others?

SKAUGEN: First, they&re from Intel, so you getthe quality, reliability and availability of Intel. I think the second thing is, from a Bensley platform perspective, we&re going to have all these new technologies in the platform. It&s not just about the CPU. It&s about the platform.

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We&ve also gone to a dual independent bus structure. So when we announced Intel Xeon MP earlier this year, we already had that structure and we were architected for dual-core. Everything from the dual independent bus, to memory architecture, PCI Express and the I/O, plus all these “Star Ts” [the way Intel refers to platform-level technologies such as HyperThreading] are coming together in one big platform with Bensley. And then the [road map] takes it all the way down the product line.

CRN: Who will be the early adopters?

SKAUGEN: We think the channel will be an early adopter of the technology, especially with Paxville DP [a dual-core Xeon processor offering] coming out later this year. It will fit in with the existing Lindenhurst chipset-based platforms.

CRN: What is the benefit of dual-core to a smaller enterprise if they don&t have a big data center?

SKAUGEN: A lot of the software that&s being licensed is being licensed on a per-processor basis, not on a per-core basis. So in a lot of aspects, this is a continuation of Moore&s Law and one of the steepest curves we&ve ever seen in Moore&s Law. So from that perspective, [the benefit will be] accelerated performance, and it will be across all the different price points. So it&s first and foremost probably a performance play for a lot of these small businesses.

CRN: Is the software ready to take advantage of these advances?

SKAUGEN: Certainly on servers, we get to claim we&ve had HyperThreading and multiprocessor systems for several years. So multicore is an extension of that. So a lot of code is already threaded, and we&ll work to get the rest of it threaded. It&s application by application, and really the call to action of the Intel Developer Forum is to understand that threading and parallelism are coming, and make sure you take it seriously in your code base if you haven&t already done so.

Clearly, a lot of the big databases and ERP applications and business intelligence applications have been threaded for some time. Operating systems have been threaded for some time. As we get into even a broader set of applications in the past, where you relied on gigahertz or megahertz only, you need to start thinking more about parallelism.