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Intel to announce latest Xeon chip

The chip giant will announce a new high-performance version of its Xeon processor for PC workstations, dubbed Foster, on Monday.

Intel on Monday will announce a new high-performance version of its Xeon processor for PC workstations.

The chip, code-named Foster, is based on Intel's NetBurst architecture and 0.18 micron manufacturing process--the same technology behind the company's current Pentium 4 chip used in desktop PCs, according to sources familiar with Intel's plans.

After a short delay, Xeon will arrive in single- and dual-processor workstations from a number of PC makers. Workstations are hopped-up PCs with greater processing power for running complex software, such as computer-aided design.

Intel will ship the first "Foster" Xeon chips in three clock-speed variants, 1.4GHz, 1.5GHz and 1.7GHz, sources said. Multiprocessor servers based on the new Xeon chip will come later in the year, the sources said.

Intel's Xeon chips are based on the same processor cores as its desktop Pentium III and Pentium 4 chips. However, Xeon chips typically offer extra enhancements, such as larger cache sizes and multiprocessor support, which help increase performance of workstations and servers. As a result, Intel charges higher prices for the Xeon chips.

The latest Xeon chip not only gains a new architecture, but a slightly different name. Intel chose to drop the Pentium name on the newest Foster-based chips, calling them Xeon, instead of Pentium 4 Xeon. Pentium III Xeon chips, however, will continue with their current name.

In coming months, Intel will seek to increase the clock speed of Xeon. The company plans to move the chip to its 0.13-micron manufacturing process later this year. As a result, a new Xeon chip code-named Prestonia will begin life at about 2.2GHz in early 2002, sources said.

Intel is also expected to produce faster versions of its Pentium III Xeon chips, based on 0.13 micron. Starting later this year, the chips should reach speeds approaching 1.2GHz, sources said.

Intel representatives would not comment on the announcement.

Advanced Micro Devices, Intel's archrival in the chip market, is expected to make a run at the PC workstation market soon with a new chipset allowing manufacturers to build systems containing two AMD Athlon processors.