Intel rolls out Xeon chips with NetBurst

Intel Corp. rolled out on Monday its first post-Pentium III Xeon chips. The dual-processor chips, simply called Xeon processors, now ship with Intel’s NetBurst architecture, which originally debuted in Intel’s Pentium 4 chip, according to Intel officials.

Targeted at high-end workstations and servers, the Xeon chips are available in speeds of 1.4GHz, 1.5GHz, and 1.7GHz. Supported by Intel’s 860 chip set, each of the new Xeon processors have a 256KB Level 2 Advanced Transfer Cache and dual-channel RDRAM (Rambus DRAM), according to Intel.

The new Intel products are the first dual-processor chips to incorporate the NetBurst architecture, technology that improves throughput, video streaming, and other performance issues related to a rich Internet experience, officials said.

Dell and Hewlett-Packard on Monday both introduced workstations built around the new Xeon chips.

The Dell Precision Workstation 530 now offers the Xeon chips in dual-processor configurations with up to 4GB of RDRAM, 292GB of internal SCSI storage, and extensive graphics options, according to Dell.

HP’s Workstation x4000 offers the Intel Xeon chips with a speedy 400MHz front-side bus that provides three times the bandwidth of previous HP dual-processor workstations based on Intel’s Pentium III chips, according to HP officials.

In quantities of 1,000 units, the Xeon chips cost US$268 for 1.4GHz, $309 for 1.5GHz, and $406 for 1.7GHz speeds, according to officials for Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel.

Last March, Intel retired its Pentium III Xeon line of server chips with the introduction of the last and fastest of the lot, a 900MHz Pentium III Xeon processor.

“We are differentiating more between our server and PC chips,” said an Intel spokesperson.

Intel plans to push its Pentium 4 chips for single-processor devices such as PCs, while the dual-processing needs of servers will be met by the Xeon chips, officials said.

“What Intel is trying to do is put some distance between multiprocessor configurations, which will be Xeon-based, and Pentium 4 chips for the desktop and low-end workstation environments,” said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst with Saratoga, Calif.-based Insight 64.

“There were a lot of people using dual-processor PIIIs where Intel would have wanted them to use dual-processor PIII Xeons. This combination of the branding exercise and taking away the multiprocessor capabilities from the Pentium 4 line will let Intel drive the Xeon price point a little higher than a Pentium 4,” Brookwood said.