SAN JOSE -- Presentations today at the Intel Developer Forum disclosed that the upcoming Intel 870 chip set for next generation servers will support either Direct Rambus or double data rate (DDR) synchronous DRAMs.
The 870 will debut in late 2001 or early 2002 to support the 64-bit "McKinley" server processor, which is the successor to Intel's Itanium chip, said Mike Fister, vice president and general manager of Intel's Enterprise Platforms group. He said about one quarter later the same 870 chip set would be available for the 32-bit "Foster" processors for server systems--which would be in the first half of 2002.
The offering would be Intel's first DDR chip set solution. It would not be affected by Intel's licensing agreement with Rambus Inc. that bars Intel DDR chip sets for desktop PCs before 2003 since the 870 supports servers only.
Fister said the totally different formats of Direct Rambus or DDR are handled by simply changing a few components in the 870 chip set. "The 870 has seven different components. We simply configure it by mix or match of components for Direct RDRAM or DDR," he explained.
The Intel 870 server chip set creates uncertainly about the company's plans for ServerWorks Inc.'s DDR chip set, which Intel expects to use for Foster- and McKinley-based servers. Fister was adamant in stressing that Intel intended to hold a technology lead in industry with its own chip sets, using the 870 and other new units coming to market.
Among the new Intel chip sets is an 860 chip set, which is expected to debut in the first quarter of 2001 to support workstations with SDRAM memory. The 860 is a successor to the dual-memory channel 840, which uses Direct Rambus memory. An upgraded Xeon server family in 2001 will be supported by a new Galatin chip set.
Fister also made the first disclosure of another new Intel chip set, code-named "Plumas." It will support dual-processor servers specifically using the upcoming InfiniBand next-generation I/O architecture.