Intel introduces new Xeon processor

Intel hopes to put some added muscle behind Web services with its new Xeon server processors.

Built to take advantage of the lag time in application processing, the new processor from the chipmaker "allows an operating system to view a single physical processor as if it were two logical processors, significantly increasing server response time, transactions and workload performance", according to an Intel statement.

"It's something where there's an awful lot of performance built into it," said Mike Fister, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Enterprise Platforms Group. The feature of Xeon that allows one processor to function like two is a process called hyper-threading. The processor threads, or parses, the application code to perform some functions while others wait for information to be retrieved from memory.

It's like doing the dishes while the clothes are in the washing machine, Fister said.

That ability increases the number of simultaneous Web transactions and users that servers can handle at one time, according to Intel, and increases performance by 80 per cent over previous Intel-based platforms. The processors will be available at speeds of 2.2GHz with a price tag of $US615 in 1000-unit quantities, $417 for 2GHz and $251 for 1.8GHz.

IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, Dell Computer, Fujitsu-Siemens and NEC plan to release "front-end" servers built on the new Xeon technology in the next few months. Dell has already released one server, the PowerEdge 4600, based on the new Xeon technology.

Intel also announced its new chip set this week. The E7500 enables twice the memory bandwidth over legacy synchronous dynamic RAM platforms. "The new chip set will accelerate memory access to increase platform performance and deliver new levels of performance for I/O intensive server applications," the Intel release said.

The Xeon technology will eventually filter down to desktop PCs and wireless devices, Fister said. Intel also released its new single-chip Gigabit Ethernet products for desktop PCs, workstations and servers that are up to 45 per cent smaller and use less power than previous products.

Fister also said the new version of Itanium, code-named McKinley, will be released this northern summer.