Intel's two server processors, Xeon and Itanium, will be sitting in a common socket by 2007, confirmed Intel's European server marketing manager Alan Priestley. What's new is the timescale, updating earlier reports. However, it could presage the Xeon's demise.

A single price point for the two CPUs, eliminating the current 50 per cent gap, means that system builders and resellers will be able to cut costs by holding smaller inventories. This should in turn translate into lower prices for end users, although it's likely that a price differential between the two will remain. System vendors are likely to add features and software to maintain the differential - and increase profit margins.

According to Jason Waxman, director of multi-processor marketing for Intel's enterprise product group, customers have been asking for a unified system for some time. Priestley said that "we want to get to a zero delta between the two platforms", although this has traditionally been the point at which the lower specification product - in this case the Xeon - starts to fade from the market.

EETimes speculates that this could spell the beginning of the end or the Xeon, but Priestley said that the Xeon would continue for the foreseeable future. "People are still running NT4 and need a platform capable of running that configuration, and the market is big enough to support both," he said.

Priestley added: "New deployments, as the software stacks evolve, are when people will move to Itanium."