Curtains for Intel's Pentium III Xeon line

SAN MATEO (03/21/2001) - Intel Corp. will retire its Pentium III Xeon line of server chips on Tuesday with the introduction of the last and fastest member of the CPU (central processing unit) family, a 900MHz Pentium III Xeon processor.

Sporting a 100MHz front side bus and 2MB of L2 cache, the chip will be targeted at "the back-end of the data center, 8-way platforms, and some higher-end 4-way platforms," said Tom Garrison, the director of IA-32 enterprise marketing at Intel, in Santa Clara, California.

The 900MHz Pentium III Xeon delivers nearly 20 percent greater performance than its 700MHz predecessor, Garrison said.

Already shipping to manufacturers like Dell Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Compaq Computer Corp., and IBM Corp., the 900MHz Intel processor is expected to prompt numerous new systems packing the chip, Garrison said.

With an 8-way server code-named Titan, Dell Computer could be one of the first manufactures to market with a product powered by the new Intel chip, according to sources close to the Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker.

Going forward, Intel will drop the Pentium reference and call its IA-32 server chips simply "Xeon processors," according to Garrison.

"We are differentiating more between our server and PC chips," Garrison said. "This is the last of the Pentium III Xeons."

Intel plans to push its Pentium 4 chips for single-processor devices like PCs, while the dual processing needs of servers will be met by a chip code-named Foster. Foster is a next-generation Xeon chip with dual processing capabilities and the Pentium 4's Internet-enabled NetBurst architecture. Foster is set to arrive in the second half of this year, Garrison said.

"What Intel is trying to do is put some distance between multiprocessor configurations, which will be Xeon-based, and Pentium 4 chips for the desktop and low-end workstation environments," said Nathan Brookwood, the principal analyst at Insight 64, in Saratoga, California.

"There were a lot of people using dual processor Pentium IIIs where Intel would have wanted them to use dual processor Pentium III Xeons. This combination of the branding exercise and taking away the multiprocessor capabilities from the Pentium 4 line will let Intel drive the Xeon price point a little pricier than a Pentium 4," Brookwood said.

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