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Intel prepping server chip launch event

Next week will see the arrival of new Intel chips for servers with four or more processors, as the chipmaker finally moves past the old Netburst architecture.

Intel will complete its transition to the Core architecture across its PC and server processors with the launch of a new quad-core chip next week, the "Tigerton" Xeon MP processor, CNET has learned.

Tigerton is a quad-core server processor designed for servers with four or more chips that is part of an overall platform code named "Caneland." Intel plans to hold a launch briefings next Wednesday with the usual suspects--Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM--plus its new best friend, Sun Microsystems, to preview the new processor and servers. Looks like the formal launch will be on Thursday. Intel had said it expected to ship Tigerton in the third quarter, but it hadn't said when the exact launch was to take place.

These Tigerton-based servers will be very powerful, very expensive, and therefore relatively rare. The overwhelming majority of the server market consists of systems with two processors, but there's enough demand and profit in the four-way segment to keep chip companies and their customers interested.

This segment is also one where AMD's Opteron chips have excelled in recent years. Dell's first product with Opteron processors was a four-way server. Intel expects to be more competitive in this segment with the shift to the Core microarchitecture, which is more powerful and more power-efficient than the Netburst architecture still in use for Intel's four-way chips. When Caneland launches, Intel will have introduced Core-based processors in every major segment of its lineup.

Tigerton will also see the end of the dual independent bus structure needed to help the four-way Netburst chips talk to the rest of the system. It will instead use dedicated links between each processor and the chipset, in a preview of a broader design overhaul expected in 2008 with the Nehalem processors.

Bringing quad-core chips to this segment gives Intel a boost ahead of AMD's quad-core Barcelona launch, which will take place the following Monday after six months of delays. (Come on, AMD, the first Monday Night Football game of the year? At least it's only Cincy-Baltimore.) Later this year, Intel will refresh its quad-core processors for two-way servers with the launch of the Penryn chips, expected to come prior to Thanksgiving.