HANNOVER, Germany -- During the CeBIT 2002 trade show here today, Intel Corp. expanded its efforts in the high-end, 32-bit server market, announcing the first in a family of Pentium 4-based microprocessors for this segment.
The new Xeon MP processors, code-named Foster, come in 1.4-, 1.5- and 1.6-GHz speed grades and are said to be faster than competitive RISC chips from IBM, MIPS Technologies, and Sun Microsystems, according to Intel of Santa Clara, Calif.
Intel's Xeon MP chips are geared for 32-bit, "multiprocessor" computer systems, such as 4-, 6-, and 8-way (or higher) servers. Compaq, Dell,
Fujitsu-Siemens, Hewlett Packard, IBM, NEC, Tyan and Unisys are expected to ship platforms, based on the new Xeon MP processors, according to Intel.
The new chips are also Intel's first "multiprocessor" products, based on the company's Pentium 4 and NetBurst architectures. The chips also feature its new "Hyper-Threading Technology." Introduced last year, the technology allows multithreaded operating systems and applications to view a single microprocessor as if it were two logical processors, enabling a 30% performance boost in systems.
Previously, Intel's fastest chip in the "multiprocessor" segment was a 900-MHz, Pentium III processor. But the new Pentium 4-based Xeon MP chips are 20-40% faster than its Pentium III lines, said Lisa Hambrick, director of enterprise product marketing at Intel.
The new offerings are aimed to expand Intel's 64% market share in the "multiprocessor" MPU space, according to Hambrick. In this arena, Intel claims its chips are faster than competitive RISC processors, including IBM Corp.'s PowerPC and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Sparc MPU, she said. "We already outperformed Sun's machines with the Pentium III processors," she told SBN.
Intel's new Xeon MP processors also bump up against the company's own 64-bit microprocessor lines, including the Itanium family of chips and the follow-on product, code-named "McKinley."
Hambrick said that there is some "overlap" between the company's high-end, 32-bit Xeon MP and 64-bit processors. "What we're trying to do is cover the entire server market," she said.
Intel's 64-bit chips are geared for high-end transaction processing, while the new Xeon MP products are aimed for systems that support "mission critical" applications, like database management, supply-chain systems, and related applications, she added.
To boost the performance of a system, the Xeon MP consists of three levels of integrated cache, including 1-MB of L3 cache, 256-KB L2 cache and 8-KB of L1 cache. This allows the processor to access data frequently and quickly, thereby improving overall system performance, according to Intel.
The 1.6-GHz Xeon MP, with 1-MB of L3 cache, is $3,692. The 1.5-GHz version, with 512-KB of L3 cache, is $1,980, while the 1.4-GHz chip, with 512-KB of L3 cache, is $1,177. Prices are quoted in 1,000-unit quantities.
--Mark LaPedus reporting from Silicon Valley