Intel Moving Desktops, Servers to Core Platform

At its annual developer confab this week, Intel executives outlined a plan to move its desktop and server microprocessors to the same processor platform that it recently unveiled for mobile computers. The comments came at the Intel Developer Forum, being held this week in San Francisco.

"The Intel Core microarchitecture is a milestone in enabling scalable performance and energy efficiency," said Intel CTO Justin Rattner. "Later this year it will fuel new dual-core processors and quad-core processors in 2007 that we expect to deliver industry leading performance and capabilities per watt. People will see systems that can be faster, smaller and quieter with longer battery life and lower electric bills."

Intel says it expects to begin shipping "Conroe," its desktop processor-based replacements for the Pentium series in the third quarter. These new chips will be based on the company's Core microprocessor, but will utilize some Pentium features, such as wide data pathways and streaming instructions. Like the Intel Core processors that are now shipping, Conroe will be based on a 65 nm manufacturing process, which will makes the chips smaller and more energy efficient than today's desktop processors. Intel says that Conroe chips will be 40 percent more powerful and 40 percent more energy efficient, when compared to today's Pentium designs.

Today's dual core Pentium design, dubbed the Pentium D, was widely criticized for its inefficient design, which hardware experts say is inferior to that of AMD's dual core microprocessors, the Athlon-64 X2 and the Opteron. Conroe is designed to overcome those deficiencies and help Intel regain its technological lead over rival AMD, which has been making market share inroads for the past few years.

Intel will also be shipping a Core-based server microprocessor that's codenamed "Woodcrest." This chip will provide an 80 percent performance improvement over today's Xeon chips will providing a 35 percent reduction in power. A dual core Woodcrest design will ship in the third quarter of 2006, while a quad-core version is on the slate for 2007, Intel says. Woodcrest is designed to overtake AMD's Opteron, which is widely acclaimed for its efficient design and performance.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini said that Intel's days of following AMD are over, and that the Core-based processor lines will help the company regain its technological edge and some lost market share. "We've tended to do best when we've had a new microarchitecture," he said, alluding to previous platform shifts, such as when Intel moved from its i486 chip to the original Pentium, or from the Pentium III to the Pentium 4. But AMD executive vice president Henri Richard said Intel's problems were of its own making. "\[Intel\] has been failing time and time again," he said. "It was their poor execution and poor product road map that opened up a great opportunity for us."

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