Intel Hones Ship Dates For Dual-Core Server, Quad-Core Chips

Intel is moving up its ship date for Woodcrest, the first dual-core server processor based on its new Core Architecture, and plans to release a quad-core processor, code-named Clovertown, early

March 15, 2006

4 Min Read
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Intel is moving up its ship date for Woodcrest, the first dual-core server processor based on its new Core Architecture, a top Intel executive said Tuesday.

Woodcrest will now ship in the third quarter, Tom Kilroy, vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, said at the Intel Solutions Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz. Intel originally expected to ship the processor in the "late third-quarter or fourth-quarter time frame," he said.

Kilroy also told system builders that the company's quad-core processor, code-named Clovertown, will ship in the first quarter of 2007. Intel had previously pegged that product to ship early next year, though many industry observers said they expected it sometime in the first quarter.

"This is an indication of how serious we are about gaining leadership," Kilroy said. "If you look at where we have lost ground, it has been in the server marketplace."

Intel has been dogged by rival Advanced Micro Devices in the server space, where AMD's processors have earned widespread kudos for better performance and less power consumption than competing Intel chips. AMD more than doubled its server market share in 2005, according to data from Mercury Research. Intel's first dual-core server processors, launched late last year, weren’t well-accepted by the system builder community because of power requirements and performance issues.To alleviate performance concerns, Intel initially had planned a first-quarter dual-core refresh, code-named Dempsey. Servers based on Dempsey were originally scheduled to show up around March, but the technology wasn't ready, forcing Intel to push the release to May, Intel representatives confirmed. Intel said it will ship Dempsey CPUs to OEMs by the end of this month.

Intel's real comeback centers around the new Core Architecture, which the company said will bolster performance by packing two CPUs running at lower clock speeds onto one die and increasing the number of tasks that can be run in parallel. Kilroy said Intel must get that processor, code-named Woodcrest, on the market as soon as possible to better compete.

The new schedule, however, narrows the gap of the release date between the two processors by just months. Kilroy said Intel has limited the number of Dempsey SKUs to compensate for the changes. In addition, Intel disclosed Monday that it will offer a low-cost, channel-specific Dempsey SKU for system builders in the volume server market.

Though some system builders said the close ship dates of the two server processors is unusual, they didn’t express any immediate concerns.

"I would expect it will be more of a problem for Intel than for us," said Glen Cottfield, president of Cheap Guys Computer, Orlando, Fla. Cheap Guys has started building $12,000 to $16,000 servers for a variety of business customers, he said.

The situation will likely result in greater processor variety for customers and lower prices, according to Cottfield. "There is going to have to be some kind of price differentiation," he said. "And then it depends on what Dell does. Whatever they do, we will do the opposite."Tim Tiefenthaler, senior director of servers and storage product marketing at Gateway, said the system maker will most likely offer a few lower-cost Dempsey SKUs along with the Woodcrest products. Dempsey products will likely be aimed at customers that "are more price conscious and buying servers for lower-end applications," he said. "Woodcrest is what Intel believes will be most competitive in price performance per watt."

Intel's Kilroy echoed those sentiments. "Not every customer has an issue about price performance per watt,” he said, “and Dempsey server will offer a price-competitive offering for that market.”

The Dempsey and Woodcrest processors will operate in Intel's new Bensley platform. Intel has said its quad-core Clovertown processor will also will work on the Bensley platform.

Also on Tuesday, Intel officially launched its ultra-low power processor for specialized and embedded applications. With power requirements of 31 watts, the new low-voltage Dual-Core Intel Xeon processor is earmarked for deployments requiring high compute density and power optimization, including 1U chassis and blade servers, SAN and NAS solutions, and network infrastructure equipment, Intel said. The company said it also plans to offer a blade server solution powered by up to two of the new processor.

The Dual-Core Intel Xeon processor LV 2.0 GHz and 1.66 GHz units are available from Intel now for $423 and $209 per unit, respectively, in 1,000-unit quantities. An Intel NetStructure MPCBL0040 Single Board Computer is expected to be available in the second quarter at an initial price of $4,495 per unit. The Intel Server Compute Blade SBXD62 is expected to ship in April at an initial price of $945 per unit.0

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