Intel 900MHz Xeon – too little too late

High-end server chip may be obsolete on arrival

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A leading Intel server OEM is privately questioning the viability of Intel's relaunch of its top of range 900Mhz Xeon processor.

According to an Intel spokeswoman, the chip giant expects to resume shipping a Pentium III Xeon 900MHz processor with 2MB of level 2 cache later this month, after changing its manufacturing process to iron out a bug that was found to cause crashes in lab tests.

The problem didn't cause data corruption problems but was serious enough for Intel to suspend shipment of the 900MHz processor in April and to offer a 700MHz processor instead. Now the problem has been resolved and shipment of a fault-free 900Mhz processor for four and eight way symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) systems will shortly begin again, or will it?

Executives at a top 10 Intel customer told The Register that it expected Xeon 900MHz to only become available in November, by which time more powerful processors will be close to delivery.

Intel server roadmaps obtained by the Register suggest that the 900MhZ chip will be superseded by a multiprocessing Foster P4 part due out early next year, which we understand will run at speeds of 1.6GHz and above. Even before then a 1GHz Pentium III Xeon processor will become available.

So will the fixed 900MHz processor be dead on arrival or will other top OEMs releases servers based on the part?

Our source tells us that other top server manufacturers are telling their customers that 900Mhz Xeon processors will be available but none of the manufacturers we spoke to were prepared to comment on the issue, even though we promised anonymity.

Either they are keeping plans close to their chest or they have no plans for the second coming of Pentium III Xeon 900MHz processor. In either case we won't have long to find out what's going on... ®

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