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Intel Expected To Follow AMD's CPU Integration

San Jose, Calif. — Intel Corp. is expected to follow a path pioneered by rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. with the integration of the company's memory controller and high-speed interconnect onto its Xeon and Itanium server processors.

The integrated processors are expected to help bring the two Intel CPU architectures into price parity and create a relatively streamlined yet powerful all-serial server chip complex. But the shift is not expected to come until 2007, sources said. The move comes as server makers are crunching through cost and power issues with a new serial memory link proposed by Intel.

"Intel has been dropping hints in various places" about the plan, said one source with a top computer maker, who asked not to be named. "If you are aware of their intention, you can see what to look for," he added. Intel was not available for comment at press time.

In presentations at the Intel Developer Forum in September, the company talked about interconnect becoming "serial everywhere." The company is already shipping chip sets using the PCI Express 2.5-Gbit/second serial I/O technology. It is laying the groundwork for a fast serial interconnect to memory with its concept for fully buffered dual-in-line memory modules (FB-DIMMs), leaving the processor bus as the last link in the chain.

The I/O rates of those chip-to-chip interconnects could be hitting data rates of up to 6 Gbits/s by the time Intel launches the processors. The PCI Special Interest Group will meet in December to consider whether to take the next generation of PCI Express to 5 or 6 Gbits/s.

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