Intel boosting Xeon processors

At its developer forum here on Wednesday Intel Corp. plans to introduce 2.6- and 2.8-GHz versions of its Xeon server chip, for dual- and single-processor applications such as Web hosting, security and streaming media.

The current Xeon processor, unvieled in February, tops out at 2.4 Ghz. Intel's faster Xeon chips, codenamed Prestonia, represent "an indication of the pace of how we're able to increase performance on the architecture," said Lisa Hambrick, Intel director of enterprise processor marketing, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Having two new chips with different speeds provides systems manufacturers with flexibility in price and performance, according to Intel. The new chips feature 512 KB of level two cache and are built on Intel's .13-micron process technology.

Users are deploying dual Xeon processors in applications such as Web page serving, Hambrick said. "The faster the processor, the more I/O, the more Web pages you can serve," she said.

Intel-based hardware makers such as IBM, Dell, Hewlett-Packark, Gateway and Super Micro are expected to ship systems using the new chips, Hambrick said. Some systems will ship immediately.

Also at IDF Wednesday, Intel plans to release details on changes in its chipset technology. The company in the fourth quarter of this year is moving to a 533-MHz front bus for servers and workstations. A 533-MHz bus also is planned for chipsets. The current speed is 400 MHz.

"The bus speed enables the processor to get data in and out of it more quickly," Hambrick noted.

New chipsets for workstations are codenamed Placer, for dual processors, and Granite Bay, for uniprocessors, and are set to ship in the fourth quarter.

Intel plans to upgrade from AGP4X (accelerated graphics port) to AGP8X to enable higher-performance graphics. The company is also upgrading to DDR (double data rate) memory in its dual-processor workstation chipset in the fourth quarter.

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