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Chip storm forecast for CeBit

Intel and Advanced Micro Devices are expected to release a flood of chips next week at the big trade show.

Intel and Advanced Micro Devices are expected to release a flood of chips next week as the world's biggest trade show rolls into Hannover, Germany.

Sources say the chipmakers will unveil new processors for PCs, notebooks and servers at the huge CeBit trade show, which begins Monday. AMD is expected to announce faster versions of its desktop and mobile Athlon XP chips. Rival Intel is said to be preparing to launch new Xeon chips for servers.

CeBit is a weeklong technology trade show that dwarfs North America's annual Comdex Fall show. Last year, CeBit attracted about 850,000 people, compared with the 125,000 that showed up in Las Vegas for Comdex. Unlike Las Vegas, though, Hannover is a small city with few hotels; so product managers, sales representatives and others stay in the furnished basements and spare bedrooms of the local citizenry.

Though the show is better known for cellular phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants) and Bluetooth, it has morphed into a showcase for all sorts of technology, and even office furniture. Among the computer makers at the show, Hewlett-Packard is expected to unveil new products.

Sources familiar with AMD's plans say the company will launch its Athlon XP 2100+ chip for desktop PCs and then its mobile Athlon XP 1600+ chip for notebooks. The two new chips will represent speed upgrades for its current Athlon XP line of processors and rival cutting-edge products from Intel. AMD will likely also discuss its plans for manufacturing chips using its 130-nanometer manufacturing process, which will shrink the chips and allow AMD to boost the speed.

AMD, which enjoys a strong presence in the European market, used last year's CeBit to announce its first Athlon chip for mobile computers.

Meanwhile, sources say Intel will formally announce its Xeon MP, a version of its Foster chip for servers with four or more processors. As expected, the chip will be based on Intel's NetBurst processor architecture, the same silicon that is behind the Pentium 4, but with server-oriented enhancements, such as a 1MB on-chip Level 3 cache. The cache stores important data closer to the processor core, speeding performance.

IBM is expected to use the Xeon MP in its x360 server. The first versions of the new Xeon MP chip are expected at speeds of 1.4GHz, 1.5GHz and 1.6GHz, sources said.

Other computer makers such as Unisys are expected to adopt Xeon MP as well.

The new Xeon MP chip will fill out Intel's Xeon line for servers by becoming the company's high-end chip for servers with four-plus processors. The 2.2GHz Prestonia, which Intel recently announced, is aimed at servers with one and two processors. Such servers are generally less expensive and are used for more mundane tasks like storing files. Dell plans to use Prestonia chips in its new PowerEdge 4600 server.

AMD and Intel declined to comment on their unannounced products.

Meanwhile, Transmeta, after slogging through delays in 2001, will use CeBit to help mend its image. The company will be on hand displaying a cadre of notebooks that use its Crusoe processors, including several designs based on its TM5800 chip, now available at speeds up to 800MHz. The 5800 was actually talked up at CeBit last year, but subsequently got hit by a series of delays, which pounded the company's bottom line.

Paceblade will announce the PaceBook, a new tablet-style PC using a Transmeta Crusoe processor, likely the new TM5800 chip. The PaceBook, about $2,000, will include a 12-inch touch screen and a wireless keyboard, the company said.

A host of other PC-related companies--including makers of motherboards, PC graphics cards and chips, and other chip set makers--will also bring out their wares at the show, which runs March 13-20.