Intel to borrow from laptops for server chips

New Xeon chip for blade servers, due out in 2006, derives from the chipmaker's Pentium M family.

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
2 min read
One of the server chips Intel will release next year comes from an unusual place: its notebook group.

A Xeon chip for blade servers due in the first half of 2006 derives from the Pentium M family, the company's notebook chip family, said Stephen Thorne, marketing manager of the server platform group at Intel. Code-named Sossaman, the chip puts out a maximum of 31 watts, fairly low for server chips, which can boast thermal ceilings of 110 watts.

"We get a number of deployments where power is a big concern," he said.

To this end, Intel will also release two low-power versions of the Irwindale Xeon chip in late 2005 that consume a maximum of 90 and 55 watts, respectively. The low-power Irwindales adopt some energy-efficiency techniques from the Pentium M but are largely based on the architecture of the existing Xeon line, which derives from the Pentium 4.

The chip--part of a server chip road map update from Intel--underscores the growing problem of power consumption, but also the increasing influence of the Pentium M, a chip designed in Intel's Israel facilities with energy efficiency in mind.

Pentium M sales have been one of the primary drivers behind the uptick in Intel revenue for the past few quarters. Some manufacturers are already putting Pentium M chips into desktops. By 2007, desktop chips derived from Merom, an upcoming version of the Pentium M, will come out.

Other changes to the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant's road map were somewhat cosmetic. Rather than identify Xeon and Itanium chips by gigahertz, the chips will be sold under model numbers. Thus 5000-series Xeon chips will be for smaller servers, while the 7000-series Xeons will be for servers containing four or more processors.

Itanium chips will be given numbers in the 9000 range.

Intel's desktop and notebook chips are sold under numbers in the hundreds, such as the Celeron 350. Chipsets for business desktops, however, will now come with 3000 numbers. (Rival Advanced Micro Devices uses two-digit numbers for its mobile chips, three-digit numbers for server chips, and four-digit numbers for desktop chips.)

Thorne further reiterated Intel's commitment to dual-core chips. Single-core Xeon chips will be phased out when the dual cores begin to arrive, which is expected to occur this year. By the end of 2006, 85 percent of the server processors shipped by Intel will be dual core, while 70 percent of the desktop and notebook ones will be.