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Intel takes on Risc in telco market

Chipzilla relishes prospect of uphill struggle

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Intel is positioning its Pentium III chips as a viable alternative to Risc processors in powering carrier-grade servers for the telecommunications industry.

Chipzilla has signed up Hewlett-Packard to help it develop servers that meet stringent telecoms standards including the Network Equipment Building Specification (NEBS) in the US and European Telecoms Standards Institute (ETSI).

Intel is developing chipsets and boards for two carrier-grade servers, both supporting dual Pentium III processors, which are expected to be available in Q4 this year. One will come in 1U form factor and the other in a 2U form factor.

Future plans call for the development of servers based on Intel's Xeon and Itanic processor families.

Howard Bubb, general manager of Intel's converged communications division, conceded that Intel was extending its commitment to the telco market at a tough time.

Spiralling debt, over-capacity and increased competition among service providers mean suppliers face a uphill struggle selling kit but Bubb suggested this was a time Intel could distance itself from its competition.

Intel argues that kit with its less expensive processors offer more choice and can support advanced applications, such as telecommunications services for GPRS and, eventually, 3G users. Other suggested applications include location-based services, content delivery and unified messaging.

It's also talking about operational support and network management systems for telcos, areas far outside the Web hosting services Intel boxes are currently used for by service providers.

To develop the work Intel and HP have set up a telecoms lab in Grenoble, France. ®

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