Intel unveils Xeon chips for low-end servers

Intel Corp. Monday upgraded its server processor line with the introduction of new Xeon chips and chipsets that the company hopes will help its push against competing processors from IBM Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

Intel has started to ship four new Xeon chips that are designed to power two-processor servers and workstations. The chips were built with their latest .13 micron fabrication process, which has allowed Intel to push speeds on the Xeons up to 2.8GHz. Intel, based in Santa Clara, Calif., also released three new chipsets and five server designs for the Xeons, to help spur adoption of the chip, the company said in a statement.

The Xeon family is one of Intel’s key weapons in the server market. It helps the company compete in the lower end of the market against IBM, Sun and HP. While its rivals’ 64-bit RISC (reduced instruction set computing) chips have some higher-end features than the Xeons, Intel is able to use its manufacturing know-how and wide industry support to keep down the cost of servers based on the chip.

Intel-based servers are expected to beat RISC-based servers in revenue for the first time in 2003, according to a recent report from Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner Inc.

The new Xeons will be shipped at speeds of 2.8GHz, 2.6GHz, 2.4GHz and 2.0GHz with a 533MHz front-side bus. Prices range from US$455 for the fastest chip to US$198 for the lowest model in 1,000 unit quantities, according to the statement.

Intel has also released the E7501 chipset for two-processor servers, the E7505 chipset for two-processor workstations and the E7205 chipset for single-processor workstations. Both workstation chipsets support USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 and AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) 8x, which boosts graphics-heavy applications, the company said.

In addition, Intel released five server designs for channel partners and smaller manufacturers that should help them get Xeon-based servers out at a quick pace. A pair of the server designs will be shipped in the next two weeks. The other three are due out early next year, according to a spokesperson.