Intel speeds low-end servers with new chip

Intel will announce Monday a new Xeon processor and a new chipset designed to boost the performance of one- and two-processor servers.

The Xeon chip -- code-named Prestonia -- uses both hyper-threading technology and Intel's Netburst architecture to up the speeds of two-processor servers by as much as 80 percent over previous Intel-based servers, according to Lisa Hambrick, director of enterprise processor marketing at Intel. Hyper-threading technology can make a single chip appear as two processors to the operating system, which can help a server run a number of applications at one time.

Servers with the new chips should show particularly strong performance with Web serving applications, database software and some CAD (computer-aided design) tools, said Kevin Krewell, a senior analyst at MicroDesign Resources.

"(Hyper-threading) is a really exciting technology, and Intel is off to a good start with it," Krewell said. "It is great on applications than can take advantage of multi-threading."

These are the first server processors built around the Pentium 4 architecture, although Intel does make a Pentium 4-based Xeon for workstations.

The Xeon processors will be available at speeds of 2.2GHz, 2GHz and 1.8GHz, and server makers such as Dell Computer Corp., Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp. will roll out Xeon servers over the next few months, Hambrick said. The 2.2GHz chips are priced at US$615 in thousand unit quantities compared to $251 for the 1.8GHz processor.

Intel also took the wraps off its own E7500 chipset for low-end servers. The company is increasing its focus on the chipset segment to compete with other suppliers of the devices that serve as a central hub between processors and other hardware components. The E7500 will support DDR (double data rate) memory technology and start at $92 in thousand unit quantities.

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