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Intel's Itanic, McKinley chips go misty eyed

All about Foster, Plumas, Prestonia and 'placers'

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Roadmap Intel has decided to give it a rest on hard and fast dates for the release of its 64-bit Itanium and McKinley microprocessors, and instead will carry on with pilot schemes for the chips.

At last August's Intel Developer Forum, the firm came under criticism for pushing back the date the Itanium was supposed to launch, with this organ suggesting it abandon hard and fast dates for this species of chip.

Both McKinley and Itanium are targeted at the workstation and number-crunching sector of the market, with the latest roadmap showing pilot schemes for both these chips throughout 2001.

The McKinley pilot will kick off in Q4 of this year, and according to a roadmap we saw, Intel has now decided that such releases will "vary from product to product". That, said the notes, "makes it difficult to state with certainty a platform release date."

It is telling PC manufacturers who have committed to making machines using its 64-bit microprocessors that they can "use this to derive approximate windows for expected platform release dates". Trouble with an approximate window, we guess, is that it's pretty hard to know where and when to look in or out.

McKinley will use the 870 chipset but Intel is attempting to address the needs of its corporate customers by introducing Prestonia, the 860 chipset, and a "placer" variant of this chipset.

In further news on the server side of things over at Santa Clara, the Xeon just like the Pentium III which it closely resembles, looks like it is not that long for this world either.

In Q2 of next year, Intel will release its Foster platform. This chip has a similar core to Willamette (Pentium 4) and will intro in three flavours, including a 1.7GHz rev. In Q3, Intel will release a 2GHz flavour of Foster.

Plumas-LE using the Prestonia (860) chipset is a "value" data processing platform for systems in between $1,400 and $2,000, and will arrive in Q2 of 2002. According to Intel this will ensure "top to bottom DP Prestonia server segment coverage".

For the volume server market, Intel is pushing 1U/2U Pentium IIIs using the ServerWorks HE-SL chipset or Micron's Copperhead chipset, but it appears no decision has yet been made whether to spring this technology into its Tualatin .13 micron process, which is due to arrive in Q3 of 2001. Prestonia and Plumas, both of which are still very much in the planning stage, will fill up the low end of the server market during 2002.

When Foster launches in three flavours - 1.4GHz, 1.5GHz and 1.7GHz - the prices will be $425, $647 and $829 respectively. And to prove that the Xeon 1.0 is not long for this world, its price will fall to $425 on the 28th of January.

Of course, Intel segments its server processors into single, dual, four way, eight way and greater. We do not wish to give the impression that the Xeon Cashcades is off to Elysium just yet.

Indeed, on the 4-way front, the PIII Xeon using the ServerWorks HE3 chipset has a life right up until the third quarter of next year. Then Foster, using the ServerWorks GC-HE chipset kicks inm with 512K/1MB of level three cache. A McKinley pilot will occupy this space too in Q4.

On the eight-way multiprocessing front, the PIII Profusion Xeons have a life up until Q3, when Foster enabled systems kick in. And eight way Itaniums, as part of a pilot scheme, will occupy this space until Q3, when yet another McKinley kicks in.

Intel insists to its customers that despite the fact that these are pilots, they will be revenue generators.

On the so-called "general purpose" level, 1GHz Pentium IIIs, followed by a 1.13GHz Pentium III will arrive in Q2 of 2001. Then we will see a Tualatin enabled 1.26GHz Pentium III and later in the year, further speed revs on this front. ®

Other Intel leaks this week

Intel's notebook strategies and prices for 2001
Intel pushes Rambus hard in 2001
Pentium 4 and Pentium III pricing until June
Tualatin and Celeron pricing in 2001
Chipset pricing from Chipsetzilla
Pentium III not long for this world
Intel to slash P4 prices January 28 An earlier, November roadmap
Foster, Xeon prices and strategies leak

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