CEBIT - Intel launches Xeon MP

Intel Corp. launched the Xeon MP processor on Tuesday at the CeBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany, unveiling the long-awaited design for low-end multiprocessor servers, code-named Foster.

The three versions of the Xeon MP, designed for servers using four or more processors, clock at 1.4GHz, 1.5GHz and 1.6GHz. The chips feature three levels of integrated cache memory, adding up to 1M byte of Level 3 cache to 8K bytes of Level 1 and 256K bytes of Level 2 cache.

The 1.4GHz and 1.5GHz Xeon MP processors each have 512K bytes of Level 3 cache, and cost US$1,177 and $1,980 respectively, in 1,000-unit quantities. The 1.6GHz Xeon MP has 1M byte of Level 3 cache and is priced at $3,692 in 1,000-unit quantities.

Greater amounts of onboard memory get important data closer to the core of the chip, improving computational performance and permitting the processor to run more complicated programs, said Nathan Brookwood, a principal analyst for the Insight 64 technology market research firm in Saratoga, California.

The Xeon MP processor is based on Intel's NetBurst microarchiture. The 32-bit Xeon MP chip doesn't compete against 64-bit processors like Intel's Itanium or others from Sun Microsystems Inc., Compaq Computer Corp. or IBM Corp., he said. But the Xeon isn't supposed to.

Intel "currently dominates the market for low-end entry level servers that are using the Pentium III and Pentium III Xeon processors," he said. Other than the Tualatin design, companies using multiple processor servers for things like e-commerce transactions and Web activities haven't had a real technology advance, he said. "Even though the dot-com companies imploded, you have Internet traffic doubling every six months or so ... the only thing that gets people buying again is new technology."

Santa Clara, California-based Intel is hinting at a multiprocessor server design for Xeon using 16 processors, an announcement that could be made in the next couple of weeks, Brookwood said.

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