Intel to showcase networking, servers

The chipmaker will reveal what it's been up to lately at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. What's hot on the agenda? More McKinleys "than ever seen before."

John G. Spooner
John G. Spooner Staff Writer, CNET News.com
John Spooner
covers the PC market, chips and automotive technology.
3 min read
Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, will reveal what it's been up to lately at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco later this month.

The main items on the agenda? Networking chips and server chips--"more McKinleys than ever seen before," says Intel Chief Technology Officer Pat Gelsinger--as well as the giant's thoughts on the shape of PCs to come.

The four-day showcase kicks off Monday, Feb. 25, with a keynote speech from CEO Craig Barrett, and runs through Feb. 28 at the Moscone convention center. Roughly 4,000 people are expected to attend, with 140 companies scheduled to participate, churning out a slew of announcements related to Intel technology.

Intel is set to announce several new initiatives, along with a host of new processors and related technologies. The chipmaker's main objective, though, is to publicize its strategy for everything non-PC. The PC-less talk will include demonstrations of forthcoming Intel server chips, the introduction of several new networking chips based on the company's Xscale processor core, and new manufacturing initiatives such as the production in silicon of radios for sending and receiving data.

While 2001 was somber for the communications and networking markets, Intel believes they'll pick up again this year. The chipmaker is betting that when the turnaround begins, companies that build networking and communications equipment will rely more on outside vendors for chips and memory, focusing their research and development budgets on other areas.

Intel wants to be the No. 1 supplier of chips for such equipment, much in the same way it supplies chips to PC makers today, executives said.

Meanwhile, the company seeks to introduce developers to its latest server technologies and promote its 64-bit family of chips. This will begin immediately after Barrett's keynote speech Monday.

"You'll see more McKinleys than ever seen before," Gelsinger said. The McKinley chip is Intel's code name for its next-generation, 64-bit Itanium processor for servers.

The company will also lay out a new plan for its line of Xeon processors for workstations and servers, introducing new Xeon chips.

Plans to build new server chipsets will be unveiled as well, including new offerings in the midrange of the market, such as new "dual processor" chipsets for servers. A chipset is a group of helper chips designed to work with a processor.

"What we're laying out here is the completion of the server chipset," Gelsinger said.

Tuesday has been designated communications and networking day. Intel will, among other things, announce several new input-output processors and network processors based on its Xscale processor core. The chips will help servers handle data and help networking equipment handle traffic. Xscale, announced in August 2000, was designed to deliver higher performance but consume smaller amounts of power than StrongARM, Intel's existing chip for handhelds and networking devices.

The company will wait until Wednesday to provide its vision for the personal computer.

Processor preview
Executives will offer up information on new desktop and mobile processors such as Intel's forthcoming Banias mobile chip.

But the company will also detail its thoughts on subjects such as PC form factors. "It's not just going to be the technologies, but also a vision for where we're trying to take the desktop, long term," Gelsinger said.

Later Wednesday, Intel will offer up its view on handhelds and cellular phones.

The company will touch on its Personal Internet Client Architecture or PCA and provide more detail on its new Xscale chips for PDAs.

Intel will use the developers' forum as a stage to further new technology standards and initiatives.

The conference's technology du jour will be Serial ATA II. Serial ATA II--an offshoot of the Serial ATA standard for transferring data between components inside PCs--will expand the performance and features of the standard to address networking and server applications. ATA II will address RAID systems, for example.

"We're taking the core serial ATA...allowing people to build larger storage configurations such as storage area networks," Gelsinger said.

Intel will also discuss a draft of a new third-generation input-output or 3GIO specification.

The company will discuss faster Pentium 4, Celeron and mobile chips too, of course. It's saving those announcements for the event's later stages.