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Intel Hastens Xeon Development Pace

The company is moving engineers from other projects to Xeon, one analyst says, in a bid to move the 64-bit chip out the door more quickly due to fears it’s losing ground to rival AMD in the server market.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Attempting to play catch-up with rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) on the server front, Intel Corp. is accelerating the development of several new microprocessor lines. This includes a new 64-bit Xeon platform that incorporates an integrated memory controller, according to a report from Pacific Crest Securities Inc.

Michael McConnell, an analyst with Pacific Crest (Portland), said that Intel has moved about 200 engineers from its Itanium processor lines to the Xeon in an effort to accelerate the development of a 64-bit chip with an integrated controller. This product is due out in the second quarter of 2007, McConnell said.

In the interim, Intel apparently has a multi-pronged strategy to enhance the Xeon, a 32/64-bit processor for servers, he said in a report.

In contrast to Intel, AMD integrated a memory controller within its own 64-bit Opteron processor line — a product that has gathered momentum in the marketplace. In the second quarter of this year, Intel’s server-based processor sales fell 6 percent, compared to an 89 percent sequential jump for AMD, according to Pacific Crest.

“We believe our findings further validate AMD’s Opteron architecture and its advantages over Intel’s single-bus, discrete memory controller Xeon, and places Intel again in the rare position of playing catch-up to AMD,” he said in the report.

Until Intel announces a Xeon processor with an integrated controller, the company is expected to roll out several other products in the interim.

At the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco this week, Intel will announce its "next-generation architecture." Merom, Conroe and Woodcrest are the code names for Intel's next generation of so-called multi-core processors slated for introduction in late 2006.

These desktop- and notebook-based processors are based on the company’s Pentium-M architecture for “improved power efficiency,” McConnell said.

It has also accelerated the development of its dual-core processor line. Originally due in 2006, Intel recently said it plans to introduce the dual-core Xeon MP, codenamed “Paxville,” in 2005, aiming it at servers with four or more processors inside the computer.

For dual processor servers, Intel plans to ship a dual-core Intel Xeon processor, codenamed “Paxville DP” in 2005. Paxville DP is to be followed by a broader family of dual-core Intel Xeon processor-based platforms in the first quarter of 2006, codenamed “Bensley” for servers and “Glidewell” for workstations, Intel said. Both products are based on 65-nm process technology.

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