Foster is Pentium 4 Doppelganger

Marchitecture and DDR engine revs up

Sources close to Intel in Japan have told The Register that Foster, the server version of the Pentium 4, and which is expected sometime in the first half of next year, will now support double data rate (DDR) memory, although Rambus memory still remains something of an option for high end workstation platforms.

Foster has essentially the same core as the Pentium 4 but utilises some features to enable four way symmetric multiprocessing, our source added.

For some time, some pundits have expressed puzzlement that Intel successfully sold Pentium III Xeons for a price premium over Pentium IIIs, although the chip technology of both were for all practical purposes, identical.

Now it appears that Intel may perform the same miracle of marketing with the Pentium 4 and its big brother Foster, as it appears that it is a matter of switching four way processing and other undocumented features on in the server chip, and leaving the lights off in the desktop processor.

While OEMs and others, including press that have signed gentlemanly and gentlewomanly agreements with Intel already have much of the Pentium 4 documentation in preparation for an October fest, the hoi polloi will just have to wait until after the launch.

At that time, we will be able to drag out our Intel microscopes, and to mix metaphors, go through the documentation with a fine tooth comb to find the additional SMP nits.

Intel will conjure the four way SMP bunny out of its marchitecture hat by value adding support including network switching, Infiniband, and high levels of DDR functionality. The IBM-Sequent team and Intel's chums at Micron and at LSI Logic are independently evaluating DDR platforms, suggesting a high level of interest in this memory solution for the server market.

Expect the fact that Pentium 4 SMP core features are switched on to push the price of Foster up for launch.

Now the next riddle for The Reg is what the pesky Foster thing will be really called. When we were in California last week, a mole told us that nothing upsets marchitects more than revealing the real names of chips, such as Itanium or Athlon. Architects, however, remain unmoved by such marketing considerations… ®

See Also

Intel Foster markings partly decoded
Intel roadmaps get Foster incursion
Intel's cunning server plans
Intel's view on double data rate memory
Leak! ServerWorks cornerstone of Intel's servers