Intel has added performance-enhancing cache memory to its server-focused Xeon processor range, and outlined plans for its next-generation server platforms including dual-core processors.

The new 64-bit Intel Xeon processor, codenamed Irwindale, includes a beefed-up L2 cache that Intel claims delivers up to 18 per cent greater performance compared to the previous version. Intel reckons the scalability of the platform is demonstrated by a new one terabyte TPC-H cluster benchmark result published by IBM showing a 52 per cent improvement over previously published results. Benchmarks used included SPEC and TPC-H.

The new Intel Xeon processor, which is drop-in compatible with the previous Intel Xeon processor, continues to offer power-saving features such as demand based switching which matches processor speed to requirements, and flexibility with support for DDR2-400 memory and PCI Express.

Intel has also introduced the IOP333 I/O storage processor based on Intel XScale technology, which it said offers enhanced RAID 6 storage capabilities that protect against dual-disk failures with greater reliability than current methods.

Coming next
Intel will also shortly introduce the Pentium 4 Processor 6xx products supporting 64-bit computing and hyper-threading for desktop PCs. These processors and Intel chipsets include entertainment and office features for both consumers and business.

Within 90 days, Intel plans to introduce its Xeon multi-processor platform with up to 8MB of L3 cache, codenamed Potomac. In addition, Intel will launch an entry-level, four-way server platform. Codenamed Cranford, it will be like Potomac apart form the inclusion of only 1MB of L2 cache.

The dual-core platforms will include a 64-bit Intel Xeon processor MP, a faster system bus, support for PCI Express and DDR2-400 Memory and demand-based switching with enhanced Intel Speedstep technology. The platform will also include the Intel E8500 chipset, codenamed Twin Castle, which is designed to support dual core processors with a dual bus technology that handles incoming data faster.

Later this year, Intel said it will deliver thousands of seed systems based on dual core Intel Xeon processors to end-users and software developers for evaluation. Intel is also providing a complete set of software development tools and industry-enabling programs to help developers and end-users take advantage of the increased performance and throughput that dual core and subsequent multi-core products will offer.

Comment
"We're intensely focused on delivering platforms that help customers grow their businesses, reduce costs and mitigate risks," said Intel's enterprise group boss Abhi Talwalkar. "With our platform approach, we design and validate products together, enabling us to deliver IT benefits beyond gigahertz to help companies save power and money, increase security and improve productivity. We now have 64-bits from top to bottom in our enterprise platforms, extending the success of our existing platforms in these areas."

"Microsoft and Intel are jointly at the forefront of bringing 64-bit computing to the mainstream," said Microsoft server business chief Eric Rudder. "In conjunction with the upcoming launch of Windows x64 Editions, Intel's latest refresh of its enterprise platforms, from clients to servers, will provide the broad IT markets with cost-effective 64-bit platforms. Customers will realise powerful, new 64-bit Windows capabilities while maintaining their investment in their 32-bit Windows applications."

Pricing and availability
64-bit Intel Xeon processors with 2MB of L2 cache are available now at speeds ranging from 3.0 to 3.60 GHz. Intel's list prices in quantities of 1,000 are: 3.60 GHz - $851; 3.40 GHz - $690; 3.20 GHz - $455; 3.0 GHz - $316.