Intel Primes the IT Spending Pump with Chips, etc.

With Web traffic up but spending flat, Intel boosts its Xeon and Itanium lines as well as PCI Express, IXP, and Tunable laser initiatives to help the industry live on their chips.
Posted February 20, 2003

Michael Singer

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- According to Intel , Web traffic has doubled on a yearly basis for the last few years while spending on IT products has leveled off -- and there seems to be no signs of letting up.

Seeing an opportunity to sell a thirsty man a glass of water, the No. 1 chipmaker Thursday outlined several ways it's chips and technologies can help companies keep up with the demand without going broke.

"The only way that this is going to work is if the Internet infrastructure scales and it must be modular," said Executive Vice President Sean Maloney at the Intel Developers Forum here.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaking giant said technologies such as Wi-Fi , PCI Express, Intel Xeon and Itanium architectures, Hyper-Threading Technology and Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture (Advanced TCA) are helping lower both the initial cost of systems as well as their operating systems.

One of the key focus areas for Intel is PCI Express. The company is leaning heavily on the technology as its own logic bus I/O. Intel is planning top-to-bottom support for PCI Express in its enterprise chipsets beginning in 2004 and new Intel storage and communications products incorporating PCI Express are expected at the same time. The chipsets will also support DDR2 memory and include a four-way Intel Xeon processor MP chipset and a Xeon processor chipset for two-way servers. The company said early silicon is already operating at 2.5 gigabits per second.

"Intel's building block approach is driving innovation at a pace that other models can't match, and that translates to new technologies, introduced more quickly, at lower prices. Corporations can then adopt the new technologies and use them for competitive advantage," said Intel Senior Vice President Mike Fister.

The company also showed off a new tunable laser processor it says could radically change fiber optics communication.

Hinted at during CEO Craig Barrett's "convergence" keynote, the chip uses Intel's Silicon-Germanium (SiGE) photonics technology to build a CMOS compatible system to take fiber optic light and sculpt and modulate the signal to change the light wave frequency.

Intel said the technology would make it easier for optical providers who now have to physically switch fiber around to get different dense wavelength division multiplexing. Maloney said the technology should come out next year.

For the average data center, Intel will offer two new additions for multi-processor servers starting next year including a Xeon processor MP with 4MB of cache and a new processor built on Intel's 90-nm process technology.

Itanium 2 processor plans include the introduction of a low-voltage version of the product (Deerfield) in the second half of this year. Future products include Itanium 2 processors with 9MB of L3 cache in 2004, followed by dual-core processors in 2005 (Montecito).

Intel says customers are already fawning over their server chips. NEC Thursday said that it's latest 32-processor Itanium 2 server running Microsoft is the fastest 32-bit SMP platform. At 433,107 transactions per minute, the TPC-C benchmark makes it the second fastest mainframe after Fujitsu's 128-processor Primepower 2000 system, which runs 456,000.

The benchmark is of high interest to Hewlett-Packard , which just announced it would migrate its PA-RISC machines like its Superdome series by turning them into Itanium-based ones. HP also purchased a cache of Xeon processors for its new HP ProLiant DL740 and the second-generation HP ProLiant DL760 servers.

For the small and home business office, Intel announced three new network processors (Intel IXP420, IXP421 and IXP422), which are optimized for applications such as Wi-Fi. The company has teamed with Linksys on its latest Wireless Access Points product.

The server and communications news piggybacks on Intel's client product roadmap with new versions of Centrino and XScale coming this year and next generation Prescott chips (with Canterwood, Springdale chipsets) as well as Azalia and Tejas processors.

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