Intel could launch new dual-core processors by June

Computer makers are planning to use Intel Corp.'s next generation of dual-core processors to build smaller, cooler machines. The first of those chips will launch in volume quantities by June, Intel is expected to announce at its Intel Developer Forum trade show in San Francisco next week.

The products, code-named Dempsey and Woodcrest, are dual-core Xeon processors that will replace the current line of Paxville chips.

"We will convey at IDF that we're on track to ship Dempsey in the first quarter of 2006, and Woodcrest is on track for the second half of 2006," said Intel spokesman Scott McLaughlin.

Hewlett-Packard Co. has already announced plans to revamp its line of servers, workstations and blades to include the new processors (see "HP launches new notebook PCs").

The new processors will greatly improve computing speed because they will allow users to run applications in parallel, instead of waiting for each stage to finish, said Paul Miller, vice president of marketing for industry-standard servers and the BladeSystem line at HP.

"It's no longer about megahertz, but about how many cores you have. Most applications today are double-threaded to take advantage of that," Miller said.

That type of computing would make the biggest difference for users managing virtualization, complex databases and distributed environments.

One reason the market is so eager to see the new chips is sophisticated users have been disappointed in Intel's Paxville technology. The company rushed that chip to market to compete with Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s dual-core design, said Gordon Haff, senior analyst at research company Illuminata Inc.

"In a world without AMD, Paxville DP would never have been introduced. It was better than not having anything out there, but they certainly weren't optimized," he said. "Dempsey and Woodcrest are much more designed to be dual-core processors. People will still argue about how they compare to AMD, but anyway they'll be better than Paxville."

That could make a big difference for computer makers competing for market share, said HP's Miller.

The Dempsey and Woodcrest processors will also allow computer designers to make smaller, denser, cooler machines.

"They will allow us to move to small form factor, SAS [serial-attached SCSI] drives. That allows us to reduce the volume almost in half, so you can fit more spindles in the machine, whether it's a blade or a tower," Miller said.

In turn, smaller drives will improve those computers' performance per watt, a measure of efficiency in power and cooling. And that could spell business success, because customers love cool computers.

Temperature makes a difference, whether a database administrator is trying to cool a rack of 42 servers or a business user is forced to listen to a whirring fan in his desktop PC.

So, HP plans to use that improvement as leverage in the market, particularly in the blade sector.

"Blades are the fastest growing part of the market from an architecture point of view. It represents 10% of our sales today, and it is growing fast," Miller said. HP sells more than 1 million x86 business servers per year.

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