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Intel Rolls Out New SMP Xeons

A new line of Intel Xeon MP processors for four-processor and larger systems hit the market on Tuesday. These Xeon MPs are the last release of the chip before Intel adds the 64-bit extensions that will make its Xeon line similar in characteristics to the AMD Opteron processors, which offer 64-bit computing capability but still support existing 32-bit applications.

Intel actually released three Xeon MP models on Tuesday. The flagship version sports a clockspeed of 3.0 GHz and 4 MB of L3 cache. The company's former flagship model was a Xeon MP at 2.8 GHz with 2 MB of cache. The two other new models both have 2 MB cache and clockspeeds of 2.7 GHz and 2.2 GHz.

Intel claims its new processor can deliver up to 25 percent better performance over the last Xeon MP based on industry benchmark results.

Among vendors lining up to offer systems with the new Xeon MP this year are Unisys, which will drop it in systems with up to 32 processors; Bull, Dell, Egenera, Fujitsu, Fujitsu Siemens, Gateway, HP, Hitachi, IBM, Kraftway, Langchao, NEC, Powerleader, Samsung and Toshiba.

The new processors follow Intel's current pricing model. The 3.0-GHz model is $3,692, the 2.7-GHz model is $1,980 and the 2.2-GHz model is $1,177. Intel has not updated its price list document yet to show whether there will be lower prices for the six Xeon MP models that currently occupy those price slots.

At its Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco last month, the chip giant announced that a first release of processors supporting the 64-bit extensions would come out in a few months. Code-named "Nocona," the first chips to support the extensions will be the low-end Xeon processors. Support for 64-bit extensions in a Xeon MP processor is expected some time in 2005.

About the Author

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

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