Intel flicks low-voltage switch

Targeting the fledgling market for server blades, Intel on Tuesday introduced the first dual-processor Low Voltage Intel Pentium III chips.

The new 800MHz chips are designed to meet the needs of so-called "node-optimized" computing environments, according to Lisa Hambrick, director of enterprise processors at Intel, based in Santa Clara, Calif.

An example of a node-optimized environment would be a clustered farm of server blades that would strive for the maximum number of server nodes taking up the least amount of space and consuming as little power as possible, Hambrick explained.

Helping to meet this requirement, the dual-processor Low Voltage Pentium III system contains two processors, each with 512KB of on-chip Level 2 cache. Besides being the first dual processors in Intel's Low Voltage arsenal, the new chips are also the first in their class of Intel chip to support standard SDRAM memory and a 133MHz system bus, according to Intel.

The new Intel chips will compete with low-voltage Crusoe chips from Santa Clara, Calif. neighbor Transmeta Corp., which targets the low-voltage server blade market with its processors.

However, according to Hambrick, Intel sees its new chip as a way of simply filling out its processor portfolio rather than a move against Transmeta.

"This really is less about the competitive piece [with Transmeta] and more about trying to get a top-to-bottom road map across a continually more segmented marketplace," she said.

Intel claims the new chip delivers a 63 percent increase in processor performance over single-way Low Voltage Pentium III chips, which were released last November at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas.

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