Intel Xeon multi-processing chip to ship next month

IBM isn't waiting for January's official launch

Intel's multi-way Xeon MP server chip, codenamed Foster, will arrive next month - a month ahead of the part's official release - courtesy of IBM.

Big Blue yesterday unveiled its x360 server, which will be based on four Xeon MP chips running at 1.5GHz or 1.6GHz. Both versions will begin shipping in December, the company said.

The official debut of the Xeon MP will take place in January, according to Intel's internal roadmap. The 0.18 micron processor, which is based on the Pentium 4 core but features between 512KB and 1MB of on-die L3 cache, was originally to have been launched last October, but Intel delayed the part, claiming that it needed "further validation".

Intel inevitably begins shipping new processors some way ahead of their official launch to ensure that vendors can ship systems on the same day. IBM appears to have decided that it's going to start offering Xeon MP-based servers just as soon as the chip turns up. This probably explains why it admitted that the x360 will only be initially available in limited quantities - it's not entirely sure how many chips Intel will truck over.

We can't say how much IBM will want for one of its new servers, but we can reveal how much Intel is charging for the chips. Prices for the 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6GHz multi-way Xeon MPs will be $1177, $1980 and $3692, respectively. The 1.4GHz and 1.5GHz parts contain 512KB of on-die L3; the 1.6GHz chip has 1MB of cache.

The 'MP' moniker has been on the cards for some months now and, as some AMD fan-boy sites have proclaimed, is indeed an attempt to compare the chips to AMD's own Athlon MP. But since AMD felt the need to nick someone else's name, XP, to promote its latest desktop processors, we don't feel it or its proponents have much of a right to complain about Intel using the same tactic.

IBM's machines, meanwhile, are designed to bridge the gap between its 32-bit offerings and 64-bit products - an interesting point to stress, given that Intel's second-generation 64-bit Itanium chip, McKinley, is going into pilot production any day now. ®

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