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Intel Shuffles Chip Roadmap, Jettisons Front-Side Bus

Intel has taken another page from rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s playbook, disclosing Monday as part of a reshuffling of its microprocessor road map that it will add a dedicated interconnect to its Xeon MP product line and remove the front-side bus that has long been a fixture of Intel architecture designs.

The company is scrapping the Reidland platform and Whitefield processor that had been on its Xeon processor roadmap for multiple-processor systems for 2007. In its place, Intel will offer what it says will be a higher-performing Caneland platform with Tigerton processor. The associated, and as yet unnamed, chipset will use a dedicated high-speed interconnect to move information on and off the processor instead of the traditional front-side bus.

Although details of the new interconnect were not fully disclosed, the technology appears similar to the direct-connection architecture used by AMD in its processors in lieu of a front-side bus. Analysts had speculated that Intel would begin moving away from its use of a front side bus in 2007 or 2008 timeframe.

The use of a dedicated high-interconnect system would be particularly appealing in multiple-processor systems, where the various processors would have to compete for use of the front-side bus. Although the new interconnect is expected to make its way onto other Intel processors, a spokesman said there is currently no available roadmap or time table.

The changes will not affect the current Xeon dual-processor product line, or the Xeon MP product line for 2006.

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