Intel to demo 0.13 micron Pentium 4 at Comdex

The first 0.13-micron Pentium 4 processors will be demonstrated by Intel Corp. at the upcoming Comdex computer industry trade show in Las Vegas, according to sources familiar with the chip maker's plans.

Intel will also introduce a new category of 0.13-micron Pentium III chips with an "S" designation, standing for "server" chip. Intel will demonstrate the new Pentium III-S chips running in ultra-dense server racks known as server blades.

The 0.13-micron Pentium 4 lays the ground work for the Pentium 4 chip family to attain speeds as high as 3GHz by the end of next year. Originally set to be launched in December, Intel recently moved the debut of the 0.13-micron Pentium 4 chip back to January, sources said.

The new Pentium III-S chips put even more pressure on a struggling Transmeta, whose Crusoe chip was also targeted at the server blade market, as well as mobile devices.

The arrival of 0.13-micron Pentium 4 chips completes Intel's transition to the smaller transistor interconnect architecture from the 0.18-micron architecture of current Pentium 4 chips. The 0.13-micron Pentium III product line, formerly code-named Tualatin, has existed for some time as Intel's Pentium III-M (mobile) chips. Pentium III-S chips are a server-centric application of the same design.

Smaller micron architectures yield faster internal clock speeds, lower power consumption, and cooler operating temperatures. Aiming a flavor of the 0.13-micron Pentium III chips at the ultra-dense server blade market was a logical step for Intel.

Server blades are a new breed of ultra-dense server that sports a revolutionary vertical design that lends itself nicely to low-power, low-heat operation while allowing users to fit hundreds of server blades in a standard rack. Early entrances into the server blade market from companies such as RLX Technologies Inc., Racemi Inc., and Compaq Computer Corp. have courted mobile chips such as Transmeta's Crusoe processor and Intel's Pentium III-M chips to achieve low-heat, high-density operation.

With the Pentium III-S chip, server blade companies will have a processor specifically designed for blade environments"Tualatin is a dynamite server chip," said Nathan Brookwood, the principal analyst with Insight 64, headquartered in Saratoga, Calif. "One of the reasons [Intel] decided not to go forward with the Foster-based Xeon chip was because Tualatin, with its larger cache, had better performance in server environments."

With the Pentium III-S, Intel has basically taken its mobile Pentium III-M chip and re-targeted it at the server market for companies that were building or considering building Transmeta-based server blades.

Intel already has a dual-processor 0.13-micron Pentium III in its arsenal, which stands to put further pressure on Transmeta, sources said.

Sales of Transmeta's Crusoe chips have taken a "significant downturn" according to Dean McCarron, an industry analyst with Mercury Research Inc. in Scottsdale, Ariz.

McCarron does not expect Transmeta to be able to return fire against Intel in the server blade ship arena until the arrival of Transmeta's Crusoe 5800 processor, an upgrade from the company's current 5600 chip that should arrive in mid-2002.

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