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Intel Rolls Out Bigger, Faster Xeons

In an initiative allowing it to make effectively bigger, faster processors, Intel Corp. shrank its dies for the Xeon processor. Intel’s plants moved to a smaller .18 micron process for its Xeon line of chips for midrange server applications.

The new processors Intel (www.intel.com) released today boast speeds up to 700 MHz, and offer either 1MB or 2MB of Level 2 (L2) cache. Xeons previously topped out at 550MHz. They were based on the older .25 micron process.

Like the Pentium III, the new Xeons will keep the 100MHz front side bus (FSB). Intel regarded this move as incremental, so kept the FSB the same as previous Xeon releases. “We didn’t want to thrash [users] with a new FSB,” says Grant Greg, product marketing director for Intel. Users would not be interested in upgrading hardware for a faster FSB, so Intel kept the clock rate the same.

Greg says that the Xeon with the smaller 1MB L2 cache is aimed at entry level servers, while the larger processor is designed primarily for four- and eight-way servers.

Some vendors have created proprietary servers paritionable beyond eight ways, that are not based off of Intel’s Profusion chipset. Greg expect the new Xeons will be used in these machines as well.

Intel is optimistic about the performance of the new line. “Expect to see some really exciting benchmarks from the usual suspects,” Greg says, suggesting that leading server vendors like Dell Computer Corp. (www.dell.com) and Compaq Computer Corp. (www.compaq.com) will release very fast servers with the new chips. - Christopher McConnell

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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