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Intel introduces last single-core Xeon

Company has more than a dozen dual-core and multicore chips in development.

Intel introduced its last single-core Xeon processors Tuesday, two models that consume lower amounts of power than regular versions of the server chip.

The models are a 55-watt, 3GHz Xeon LV and a 90-watt, 3.2GHz Xeon MV, Intel said. In contrast, Intel's conventional 3.8GHz dual-processors are 110-watt chips.

Chipmakers are working on processors that consume less electrical power and, correspondingly, throw off less waste heat. And it's not just because energy and electricity prices are increasing. Chips that consume less power make it easier for computer makers to design systems and easier for customers to fill data centers without facing overheating problems. Intel's new low-voltage models are geared for blade servers and other models that pack processors more densely into computing chassis.

Dual-core processors typically run at lower clock speeds than their single-core equivalents. But dual-core models can perform better even at lower clock speeds when the workload is divided into multiple independent instruction sequences, called threads.

Intel has lagged behind rival Advanced Micro Devices in releasing dual-core server chips, which combine two processing engines onto a single slice of silicon. But the larger company has more than a dozen dual-core and multicore chips in development and plans to announce its first dual-core Xeon, called Paxville, in coming weeks. Paxville will come in two versions, one for servers with dual processors and one for servers with four or more processors.

AMD's mainstream Opteron chips are 95-watt models, though a 120-watt "special edition" is available. So far only Sun Microsystems uses the SE version. AMD also sells lower-wattage models for blade servers and other densely packed computer designs.

AMD has gained market share against Intel with Opteron. But with pricing, keeping AMD's profit margins from growing.