Intel to deliver six-core Xeon processor this year

The Dunnington chip will be part of the Xeon MP 7000 processor series

SAN FRANCISCO -- Intel Corp. on Wednesday confirmed that it would ship a six-core Xeon processor in the second half of this year, putting to rest rumors about the processor's actual ship date.

Speculation about the shipping date of the processor, code-named "Dunnington," surfaced last month after an Intel presentation detailing the processor was leaked by Sun Microsystems Inc. The presentation, which showed that the chip would ship in the second half, was available on Sun's servers, but was later pulled offline.

The Dunnington chip will be part of Intel's Xeon MP 7000 series of processors and will allow a four-processor server to have up to 24 cores, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said during a speech at Intel's investor conference in Santa Clara, Calif., on Wednesday. It will be part of the Caneland server platform, which also includes the Clarksboro chip set.

Otellini also reaffirmed that Intel is on schedule to release chips based on the Nehalem microarchitecture, a successor to Intel's Core microarchitecture, later this year. Otellini had in the past said that Nehalem would deliver better performance per watt and better system performance through its QuickPath Interconnect system architecture. Nehalem chips will also include an integrated memory controller and improved communication links between system components.

Nehalem processors will offer multi-threading and up to eight cores per chip, Otellini said. A multi-threaded octo-core system will make for a very powerful machine and could expand Intel's presence in niche segments such as high-performance computing, he said. The PC version of the Nehalem chip will mix CPU cores and graphics cores to deliver improved system performance, Otellini said. Nehalem chips will be manufactured using a 45-nanometer (nm) process.

The company will follow up Nehalem with the Westmere microarchitecture in 2009 and Sandy Bridge in 2010, Otellini said. He indicated that work has begun on microarchitectures to succeed Sandy Bridge, but noted that code names had not been assigned. By 2011, he said chips will be manufactured using the 22nm process.

Intel expects to make a real leap into the HPC segment with the Larrabee platform, which will have numerous cores, multiple threads and deliver performance "bar none," Otellini said. The processor is expected between late 2009 and 2010.

Otellini also reaffirmed that the Menlow platform for ultraportable devices would ship next quarter. The system is a set of components, including the low-power processor code-named Silverthorne and the Poulsbo chip set, that run ultramobile devices. The Silverthorne chip, manufactured using the 45nm processor, will be upgraded and moved to the 32nm processor next year.

Intel earlier this week assigned the brand name Atom to its Silverthorne and Diamondville chips. The Menlow platform for ultramobile computers was renamed Centrino Atom. The Diamondville is a low-power chip targeted for use in inexpensive laptops.

While Intel is increasingly focused on mobile devices and notebooks, it isn't giving up on desktops. The company is working on a technology called "Remote Wake-up," which makes a desktop an Internet-attached storage device. Typing a URL into a remote Web browser wakes up a desktop from deep sleep mode, allowing users remote access to files on the desktop. Intel said it is working on this technology, but company officials did not provide a release date.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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