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Intel's high-end Xeon processor received a pair of improvements on Tuesday with the chip's clock speed reaching 3.0GHz and a large cache being added on the product.

The new Xeon MP - code-named Gallatin - is aimed at the multiprocessor server market and particularly at servers with four processors. The 3.0GHz, 4MB cache version of the chip can boost some software by up to 25 percent over the previous high-end model, running at 2.8GHz with 2MB of cache, Intel said.

As with any new Xeon chip, a number of server makers such as Dell, HP and IBM are expected to roll out systems with the product at a quick clip.

Intel held a conference call in tandem with research firm Thomson Financial to promote the product's performance. Jeremy Lehman, SVP of technology at Thomson Financial, said his company has been moving to replace SPARC/Solaris systems from Sun Microsystems with Intel-based gear for some time now.

"The real reason is because (Intel) delivered the results we needed," he said.

Lehman added that he felt less locked into a single vendor by picking Intel-based servers.

This points to Intel's aggressive moves against Sun and IBM to creep into the higher-end of the server market. Intel dominates the workstation and two processor server space but has had a tough time cracking the four processor and above segment of the market. It's these multiprocessor systems that account for the majority of server revenue.

Intel hopes to make a strong charge against Sun and IBM next quarter with a new version of Xeon - code-named Nocona - aimed at the one and two processor server space. This will be the first chip from Intel to contain 64-bit extensions. Intel followed rival AMD with this type of technology after bashing it in favor of the 64-bit Itanium chip for several years.

A Xeon MP with 64-bit extensions won't arrive until 2005. This chip - code-named Potomac - will be the follow on to Gallatin.

The new 3.0GHz Xeon MP is priced at $3,692 in 1,000-unit-quantities. ®

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