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Intel Conroe Processors Move To Servers

The CPU will effectively replace current Pentium D processors, which some system makers--including Dell and IBM--have been using to power entry-level servers for small businesses.

Intel next month plans to launch versions of its Core 2 Duo desktop processor aimed at the server market, and the chip maker will brand the part Xeon 3000, CRN has learned.

System builders told CRN that the CPU will effectively replace current Pentium D processors that some system makers -- including top tier manufacturers such as Dell and IBM -- have been using to power entry-level servers for small businesses.

System builders said they believe the Xeon 3000 series will be made up of the top-performing Core 2 Duo chips and is designed for one socket, or what Intel calls uniprocessor, servers. One system builder said Xeon 3000 processors will be paired with the Mukilteo-2 chipset, which he believed will offer some entry-level reliability and manageability features unavailable in the desktop chipsets.

The announcement, expected during Intel's Fall Developer Conference in late September, is the first time Intel will brand all processors aimed at servers under Xeon. Pentium Ds currently powering some servers and their companion chipsets have been branded under the desktop line.

An Intel spokeswoman declined to comment on unannounced product.

But an executive at motherboard maker and system builder SuperMicro, San Jose, Calif., said Intel released the Mukilteo-2 chipset , now called the 3000 and 3010 line, yesterday and that SuperMicro already has developed a line of motherboards to support Xeon 3000 and Core 2 Duo processors.

Intel is currently promoting the 3000 and 3010 on its website. Among the features touted in the chipset are hytperthreading, Intel's SpeedStep technology for power management, support for PCI Express and PCI-X, Matrix Storage technology that boosts performance with RAID, and Intel's Active Management technology. The chipsets also support select Pentium 4 and Pentium D processors, according to Intel's website.

Intel launched its Core 2 Duo processors, formerly code-named Conroe, at the end of July. Those dual-core processors range in clock speed from 2.96MHz to 1.86MHz and include either 2Mbytes or 4Mbytes of L2 cache. They each rely on a 1066MHz front side bus.

The Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker also recently shipped two new processors, Xeon 5100 "Woodcrest," which, with the Core 2 Duo, is based on Intel's new Core microarchitecutre, and Xeon 5000 "Dempsey", a low-cost server CPU based on Intel's older architecture. Both processors are aimed at two-socket servers and offer better price/performance per watt than previous Xeon offerings.

Though there are ample server options available from Intel, Tau Leng, SuperMicro's director of marketing, said the Xeon 3000 will fill several product niches: entry level-servers, low-cost server appliances and low-cost high performance computing models.

"You will see entry-level servers using the single socket option, and customers building appliances, such as firewall appliances, will be relying on this type of server," he said.

SuperMicro said it will offer single-socket boards for 1u and 2u servers. The 2u version will include support for PCI-X and PCI-Express, RAID 0,1, 5 and 10, and an open IPMI slot for management.

In the 1u space, SuperMicro is offering two small 9.6-inch x 9.6-inch motherboards.

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