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Intel Speeds Up Xeon ‘Prestonia’ Processor

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Intel Monday debuted a faster Xeon dual core processor (code-named Prestonia), which may be the last upgrade of the year for the 130-nanometer (nm) chip.

At 3.20 GHz, the new dual core processor features a 1 MB cache and a 533 MHz system bus and is designed for use in general-purpose servers for Web hosting, data caching, search engines, security, streaming media, and high performance computing.

The new Intel Xeon processor at 3.20 GHz (the previous version released in July was 3.06 GHz) features a 1 MB cache and a 533 MHz system bus. It is designed for use in general-purpose servers for Web hosting, data caching, search engines, security, streaming media and high performance computing, and in workstations for digital content creation, mechanical and electrical design, financial analysis, and 3D modeling.

The idea behind increasing on-die cache is to create a fast memory reservoir. The company says data stored in the processor’s on-die cache is faster to access than data stored on the hard drive or other system memory.

Priced at $851 in 1,000-unit quantities, the chip is drop-in compatible with existing systems designed with the Intel E7501 (for servers) or Intel E7505 (for workstations) chipsets, IntelPRO Gigabit Ethernet Network Connections and Intel Server RAID Controllers.

“The way we stay on top of the market segment is to consistently deliver better performance to meet demanding customer requirements,” Intel Enterprise Platforms Group general manager Ajay Malhotra said in a statement. “These new Intel Xeon processors deliver outstanding price-performance and value to our customers, with drop-in compatibility with existing Intel Xeon processor-based platforms to extend the life of previous investments.”

The product family is part of Intel’s “real server” campaign, which targets mostly small to medium-sized businesses and educates them on the benefits of choosing servers with Intel processors. As testament to that, an Intel spokesperson said top-tier vendors including IBM, Dell Computer, and Hewlett-Packard are expected to ship systems with this processor, starting this week.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant did not say 3.20 GHz would be the last speed bump for the Prestonia family, but the company is quickly migrating from 130-nm to 90-nm and has already announced big plans for next year.

Going forward, Intel says its Xeon dual-core processor family’s first 90-nm chip due in the first half of 2004 is code-named “Nocona.” An additional 90-nm code-named “Jayhawk” is expected to follow soon after. Intel said the Nocona would run primarily in three new server and workstation chipsets code-named “Lindenhurst,” “Lindenhurst VS” and “Tumwater.”

In its multiprocessor Xeon family, Intel said it plans to release a four-way chip (“McCarran”) later this year. The company’s multi-core Xeon processor family (“Gallatin”) for servers with four or more processors with a larger cache processor is earmarked for debut in the first half of 2004. The first family’s first 90-nn Xeon (code-named “Potomac”) will follow with support from a new Intel chipset (code-named “Twin Castle”).

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