Intel accelerates dual-core server roadmap

Santa Clara (CA) - Intel will introduce its first dual-core Xeon well ahead of schedule. Originally planned for the first quarter of next year, the Paxville MP and DP chips will make its debut in the fourth quarter of this year and bring support for fully buffered memory.

Intel's first dual-core server processors will be four Xeon MP models that are based on the "Paxville MP" dual core. The processor for 4- and 8-processor systems will continue to use the current Truland Platform that serves as home for the current Xeon DP and MP processors but offer several new features that are unique to the dual-core chip.

Among the features of the future Xeon MP is support for fully buffered memory (FB-DIMMs) which is enabled with the arrival of the E8500 (FSB 667 MHz) and E8501 (FSB 800 MHz) chipset. Intel will also debut demand-based switching (DBS), a variation of its SpeedStep technology and support 64-bit extensions as well as Hyperthreading throughout the Paxville MP product family. The current roadmap does not indicate explicit support for virtualization, which is surprising to some industry watchers.

The initial model lineup of the upcoming Xeon MP will include the FSB667 versions 7020 (2.66 GHz, 2 MByte L2 cache) and 7040 (3 GHz, 4 MByte) and the FSB800 chips 7030 (2.8 GHz, 2 MByte) and 7041 (3 GHz, 4 MByte). The dual-core Xeon DP will continue to use the E7520 chipset and will be initially available in a 2.8 GHz model.

While Intel accelerates the speed it brings dual-core chips to the market, at least the 90 nm Paxville DP/MP appear to simply play catch up with AMD and an answer to market expectations. Nott too long after the introduction of the Paxville MP, in the second half of 2006, Intel will launch a new Xeon MP, code-named "Tulsa". The chip is currently described only with the attribute to bring "exceptional performance," but sources told Tom's Hardware Guide that Tulsa may bring a completely new architecture, similar to the upcoming "Conroe" processor. Conroe is expected to lower power consumption dramatically from today's Pentium architecture named "NetBurst."

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