Intel to demo 0.13-micron Pentium 4
By Dan Neel
(IDG) -- Sources familiar with Intel's plans say the chip maker plans to demonstrate the first 0.13-micron Pentium 4 processors at the Comdex computer industry trade show -- which runs November 12 through 16 in Las Vegas.
Intel also is to introduce a new category of 0.13-micron Pentium III chips supported by a server-grade chip set with advanced I/O and error-correcting code memory. Intel is expected to demonstrate the new Pentium III chips running in ultradense server racks, known as server blades.
In the first half of 2002, Intel is to take the server-grade 0.13-micron Pentium III chips another step, introducing low- and ultralow-voltage versions of the processors that carry an "S" suffix, designating them as server chips.
The 0.13-micron Pentium 4 is said to lay the groundwork for the Pentium 4 chip family to attain speeds as high as 3GHz by the end of next year. Originally set to be launched in December, Intel has moved the debut of the 0.13-micron Pentium 4 chip back to January, sources say.
The new Pentium III server chips put even more pressure on struggling Transmeta. Its Crusoe chip was also targeted at the server blade market and mobile devices.
The arrival of 0.13-micron Pentium 4 chips completes Intel's transition to the smaller transistor interconnect architecture from the 0.18-micron architecture of current Pentium 4 chips. The 0.13-micron Pentium III product line, formerly code-named Tualatin, has existed for some time as Intel's Pentium III-M (mobile) chips. Pentium III-S chips are a server-centric application of the same design.
Smaller micron architectures yield faster internal clock speeds, lower power consumption and cooler operating temperatures. Aiming a flavor of the 0.13-micron Pentium III chips at the ultra-dense server blade market was a logical step for Intel.
Server blades, those ultradense servers, sport a revolutionary vertical design that lends itself nicely to low-power, low-heat operation while allowing users to fit hundreds of server blades in a standard rack. Early entrants into the server blade market such as RLX, Racemi, and Compaq have courted mobile chips -- Transmeta's Crusoe processor and Intel's Pentium III-M chips -- to achieve low-heat, high-density operation.
With the Pentium III server chip, server blade companies will have a processor specifically designed for blade environments.
"Tualatin is a dynamite server chip," says Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64, in Saratoga, California. "One of the reasons (Intel) decided not to go forward with the Foster-based Xeon chip was because Tualatin, with its larger cache, had better performance in server environments."
With the new Pentium III server chip, Intel has basically taken its mobile Pentium III-M chip and re-targeted it at the server market for companies that were building or considering building Transmeta-based server blades.
Intel already has a dual-processor 0.13-micron Pentium III in its arsenal, which stands to put more pressure on Transmeta, sources say.
Sales of Transmeta's Crusoe chips have taken a "significant downturn," according to Dean McCarron, an industry analyst at Mercury Research in Scottsdale, Arizona.
McCarron says he doesn't expect Transmeta to be able to return fire against Intel in the server blade arena until the arrival of Transmeta's Crusoe 5800 processor, an upgrade from the company's current 5600 chip. It should arrive in mid-2002.
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