Intel Corp. will use its fall Intel Developer Forum in San Jose next week to emphasize market convergence, further blurring the line between its traditional PC focus and continued push into communications.
Highlights will include the first details of Intel's Banias mobile microprocessor, which is expected to feature wireless Ethernet and 802.11a connectivity, and the introduction of two processors aimed at broadening the company's position in communications networking.
"The convergence of the computing and communications industries is not a new concept, but we'll speak to how silicon technology relates to that convergence, [leading] to anywhere, any- time computing, and assists people who desire to use any device to talk to any other device anywhere, anytime," said Frank Spindler, vice president of Intel's Corporate Technology Group.
Intel next Tuesday will take the wraps off its new Xeon and XScale processors. The Xeon is targeted at applications and service processing, and the XScale at control-plane processing, both within network equipment platform blades. The chip introductions demonstrate Intel's continued effort to gain socket space in the networking equipment market by using traditional processing technologies.
Within networking platforms, blades are becoming attractive alternatives to new servers. Driving the trend are equipment manufacturers and service providers seeking to add new revenue sources and expand processing capabilities with existing platforms, said Tom Franz, vice president and general manager of Intel's Network Processor Group.
The new processors, the 1.6GHz LV Xeon and the 533MHz IXC1100 XScale-based control-plane processor, are designed to work in tandem with Intel's family of network processors, Franz said.
"I'm very pleased with the progress we're making with processors in communications," he said. "We've had this focus for quite a few years, and I think we're now seeing the fruits of those efforts."
Intel continues to lead the market in network processor design wins, said Linley Gwennap, an analyst at The Linley Group in Mountain
View, Calif. Despite slow network processor growth, design wins today should produce revenue in the years ahead, he said.
"Any company that's not investing in new system designs now is not going to be competitive when the market picks up," Gwennap said. "What Intel has been doing in the traditional network processor space has been very popular, and with some of these new parts they are bridging the space between those devices and the traditional server and PC processors they build."
The LV Xeon is available and is priced at $355 in quantities of 1,000. The device is optimized for low power, staying within the 30W processor thermal envelop for blades, Franz said. The IXC1100, with 2.4W power dissipation, will be in production within two months and is priced at $55 in 1,000s.
Intel will also disclose at the IDF its first cellular handset design win for X-Scale, from BSquare Corp., a Bellevue, Wash., OEM using the processor for a branded handset offering.
On the MPU side
Intel is also expected to provide the most details yet on Banias, a mobile device designed from the ground up. Slated to debut officially late this year, Banias is expected to provide significantly lower power consumption than the company's prior mobile PC offerings.
Banias reportedly will have a 1.6GHz frequency, but performance equal to a 2.2GHz Pentium 4.
"We'll discuss Banias in the context of form factors for mobility, high performance, and how you can do it in a small form factor with low power and elements that support moving toward seamless wireless connectivity," Spindler said.
Intel, Santa Clara, Calif., will also use the IDF to expand on its disclosure last month of its next-generation 90nm process, citing upcoming devices that will be produced with the advanced technology. The first 90nm desktop processor, the Prescott, will be detailed.
It isn't clear, though, whether Intel will discuss the Dothon, the first 90nm mobile processor, or the Nocona, the first 90nm Xeon server chip.
Spindler said details of Intel's first 3.06GHz processor will be disclosed. He declined, however, to comment on reports that the chip will be the first desktop processor to offer HyperThreading, a technique that allows a single processor to operate in the same fashion as dual processors.
New Itanium-2 server processors, the Madison with 6Mbytes of on-die cache, and the Deerfield with 3Mbytes of on-die cache, will be showcased. The devices are expected to be introduced in the first quarter of 2003.
Spindler declined to say whether Intel will detail the first core logic supporting the new DDR333 memory, or the new dual-memory channel chipsets, code-named Granite Bay, slated to debut in the fourth quarter to support desktop processors.
He also refused to say if discussion of the follow-on dual-channel Springdale chipset for Prescott, as well as a dual-channel version of Prestonia for Xeon services, called Placer, will be on the agenda.