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Intel Chip Saves Power, Sacrifices Speed

Chipmaker outlines plans for better server performance and more design stability

Intel's sales pitch this year will emphasize better server performance, chips that integrate computing and networking, and more design stability aimed at making it easier for companies to make large PC upgrades.


SCOTT STUDHAM PHOTO

Power is the No. 1 concern for Intel tester Studham.
The No. 1 chipmaker said at the Intel Developer Forum last week that it plans to ship in the second half of the year a low-voltage version of its Itanium 2 processor for 64-bit computers at a speed of 1 GHz, with a 1.5-Mbyte Level 3 cache. The LV Itanium 2, code-named Deerfield, will cycle slower and include less on-chip memory than the Madison generation of Itanium 2 chips due this summer, but, at 62 watts, it will draw less than half as much power. "Having large, fast caches on the server is clearly a performance enhancer," says Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff. But for some extremely parallel high-performance computing apps, "slower, cooler processors can give you better computing density."

Doubtful, says Scott Studham, a technical group lead at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a test bed for Intel chips. "For our applications, No. 1 is pure processor power. Somewhere around requirement No. 5 is power density," he says. Deerfield will be a "cheaper processor that more people can deploy" on workstations.

Intel is also moving its 64-and 32-bit server chips to a 0.13-micron manufacturing technology. This increases the number of transistors on chips and boosts database app performance.

In networking, Intel last week rolled out three embedded XScale processors to run networking gear that delivers Web and voice services to small and midsize businesses. For business PCs, Intel plans next quarter to begin a program that will keep chipset drivers unchanged for six quarters, and ship a single software image for desktops and notebooks.

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