Intel demos PC partitioning, server chips

During the opening address at the Intel Developer Forum Tuesday, Intel announced a new technology to let desktop PCs run independent operating systems on a single chip, and laid out plans for its server processors beyond the current generation.

Intel President and Chief Operating Officer Paul Otellini discussed Vanderpool technology for the first time Tuesday. This initiative separates the processor into two partitions upon which users can run two independent operating systems or applications. Users will be able to recover more quickly from system crashes and improve the reliability of their PCs, Otellini said.

Partitioning technology is available for software on servers, but no one has brought that technology to hardware on desktops yet, Otellini said. Products featuring Vanderpool will be released within five years, he said.

Otellini also revealed Intel's plans for future server chips in both its 32-bit Xeon line and its 64-bit Itanium processor family. The Santa Clara, California, company is headed toward multiple core designs for its server chips, Otellini said.

Intel will release its first dual-core Xeon product with the launch of Tulsa, which will come after the launch of the previously disclosed Potomac chip in 2004, Otellini said.

On the Itanium side, Intel plans to release a chip known as Tanglewood some time after 2005, Otellini said. Tanglewood will contain multiple cores, and is based on the work done by a group of engineers who originally developed the Alpha processor for Digital Equipment Corp., he said.

Most of the opening address to the 4,500 developers, analysts and media gathered in San Jose for the biannual conference focused on the convergence of communications devices and computers, a theme Intel has been pushing for several quarters.

The company demonstrated a personal communicator device that places phone calls and sends digital still and video images over a wireless network, with performance similar to that of a modern Pentium 4, according to Otellini.

Consumers who want to move video and audio wirelessly from their PCs to their televisions will be able to secure that content with the new DTCP-IP (Digital Transmission Content Protection over Internet Protocol) standard, Otellini said. DTCP-IP was developed in conjunction with the Digital Home Working Group, an industry collaboration that Intel Vice President and General Manager Louis Burns is expected to discuss in greater detail during his keynote address Tuesday afternoon.

Intel also updated attendees on the process of some technologies that it announced at prior conferences.

LaGrande, a hardware-based security effort, is designed to protect data from hackers or spyware as it moves within a system. Intel intends to place this technology on just about every product it sells within the next two to three years, but will allow customers to select systems with the technology disabled if they have concerns about the potential of vendors to use LaGrande for digital rights management, Otellini said.

Intel's transition to a 90-nanometer process technology is well under way, Otellini said. The company will see revenue from shipments in 2003 from both Prescott, its 90nm desktop chip, and Dothan, its 90nm mobile chip, he said. However, the ramp toward full volume production will extend into 2004, he said.

Otellini expressed optimism that the semiconductor industry and the tech world in general is starting to come back from the doldrums of the last few years. "We've survived the depths of the industry. Things are starting to move again," he said.

IDF runs through Thursday.

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