Executives at the Intel Developers Forum disclosed that the upcoming Intel 870 chipset for next- generation servers will support either Direct Rambus or double-data-rate (DDR) SDRAMs.
Mike Fister, vice president and general manager of Intel's enterprise platforms group, said the 870 will debut in late 2001 or early 2002 to support the 64-bit McKinley server that is the successor to Itanium. About a quarter later, the same 870 chipset would be available for the next-generation 32-bit Foster servers, he said.
It would be the first DDR chipset made by Intel itself. It would not be affected by Intel's licensing agreement with Rambus Inc. that bars Intel DDR chipsets 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 chipset.
"The 870 has seven different components. We simply configure it by mix or match of components for Direct RDRAM or DDR," Fister said.The 870 is then slated to be available for the next-generation 32-bit Foster servers in the first half of 2002, he said. The Intel 870 server chipset also created uncertainly regarding the ServerWorks Inc. DDR chipset, which Intel is using for the Foster and McKinley servers.
Fister said, however, that Intel intends to hold a technology lead with its own chipsets, capitalizing on the 870 and other new units coming to market. Among the new Intel chipsets is an 860 chipset 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 that uses Direct Rambus memory. An upgraded Xeon server family in 2001 will be supported by a new Galatin chipset.
Fister also made the first disclosure of another new Intel chipset, code-named Plumas, that will support dual-processor servers using the upcoming InfiniBand next-generation architecture.