Intel launches new Gallatin processor

Intel has launched a new, faster version of its Xeon processor MP chip for multiprocessor systems, code-named Gallatin.

With a 3.0GHz clock speed and 4MB of level three (L3) cache, the fastest version of Gallatin, which was originally launched in November 2002, would have twice the cache of its 2.8GHz predecessor and deliver upto 24 per cent better performance compared to previous Xeon MP chips, Intel said.

Intel will also provide two other versions of Gallatin, according to Richard Dracott, Intel's general manager of enterprise marketing and planning.

There would be 2.7GHz and 2.2GHz versions with 2MB of L3 cache, he said.

"What we're doing here [with Intel's Xeon processor family] is essentially breathing new life into a platform that's been around a few years," Dracott said.

The new chip was a fairly significant improvement for the Xeon MP line, analyst with Illuminata, Gordon Haff, said.

The doubling of the on-chip cache worked particularly well to increase the performance of multiprocessor servers running commercial applications such as transaction processing, he said.

Because multiprocessor servers put a larger strain on the memory subsystem, increased amounts of on-chip cache couls help alleviate that load, Haff said.

Cache stores frequently used data in a repository close to the chip's execution units so that it can be processed faster than data stored in memory.

But the improvements to the new chip are still overshadowed by Intel's recent decision to bring 64-bit extensions technology to its Xeon DP processors for one and two-processor servers.

The new Xeon MP chip does not include the 64-bit extensions, which are planned for the next scheduled release on Intel's Xeon MP road map, code-named Potomac.

Several vendors are expected to offer systems based on the new Xeon MP chips, including Unisys, which starts shipping its ES7000 systems with the chips in April. HP currently ships 4-way and 8-way ProLiant DL560, DL580, DL740 and DL760 servers based on the new processors.

IBM is now shipping the processors in its xSeries 255, 365 and 445 systems, with two-processor configurations priced at $US7358, $US15,599, and $US18,617, respectively. The company is also shipping the new Gallatin chips in its HS40 blade servers, with a base price of $US12,359 for a dual-processor system.

Dell will now ship PowerEdge 6650 and 6600 4-way servers based on the new Xeon MP processors. Single processor systems based on Intel's top-of-the line 3.0GHz chip will start at $US7499. A single-processor PowerEdge 6600 based on the 2.2GHz processor begins at $US4999.

Intel lists the 3.0GHz Xeon MP for $US3692. The 2.7GHz and 2.2GHz versions list for $US1980 and $US1177, respectively.

(Tom Krazit in Boston contributed to this story)

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