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Intel soups up servers

Intel is shipping samples of an updated processor that could double server performance.

Intel (INTC) is shipping samples of an updated processor that could double server performance.

The i960RD chip handles input-ouput, or I/O. In servers, I/O processing involves, for example, the sending and receiving of data from the hard disk drive subsystem. The Intel chip can be integretated onto the server motherboard, the main circuit board in a computer. By taking over I/O tasks, the chip frees the main processor such as a Pentium Pro to handle the operations that it is more suited to such as database-related processing, thereby speeding up overall server performance.

The new chip replaces an older I/O chip from Intel and the company claims it doubles the performance of its predecessor. With the extra processing power, server operating systems can take on online backup, security, system management, and lossless compression.

Intel has already recruited some server vendors to use the chip.

Micronics says it will be the first to incorporate the processor. It is using the i960RD in a new motherboard design that supports dual Pentium Pro processors. Micronics expects to ship products with the new chip in the second quarter of 1997.

Hewlett-Packard is also on the list of supporters for the new chip.

"The i960RD processor is a key element we will use to [improve] I/O and overall system performance," said Duncan Campbell, worldwide marketing manager for the HP Network Server Division in a statement.

HP also is planning to use the new chip because it supports the I20 specification, a new technology for increasing the performance of servers.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.