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Intel yanks 'Tulsa' launch forward

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Intel has pulled forward the release of a server chip meant for four-socket servers, as it desperately tries to catch-up with rival AMD.

Intel today revealed that "Tulsa" will arrive in the third quarter instead of the fourth quarter, as previously forecast. The chip will slot into Intel's MP - multiprocessor - systems that generally have four-sockets. As expected, Tulsa will have a 16MB on-die cache and show up to a 2x performance boost over previous chips.

In addition, Intel confirmed that the "Woodcrest" chip meant for dual-socket and below servers will ship on June 26.

Intel has been forced to do all it can to release a new set of server chips built with the "Core" architecture that shows dramatic performance per watt improvements. Over the past two years, AMD has marched from being a non-entity in the server market to claiming the scalps of IBM, HP, Dell and Sun Microsystems as customers and building out a large server chip business.

AMD has enjoyed particularly high performance gains over Intel in the four-socket server market, so much so that Dell ended its AMD boycott to embrace Opteron in higher-end servers.

To Intel's credit, the Woodcrest chip appears very strong. Customers have been sending El Reg rave reviews of test systems, declaring that AMD's performance edge on many applications has vanished.

Intel's apparent gains have come as a surprise to many - including your reporter - as it was able to make impressive tweaks to its processor designs that seem to have made up for numerous archaic shortcomings. In particular, Intel has avoided a performance penalty on lower-end systems for not having an integrated memory controller by arming its chips with large caches.

Most analysts expect AMD to continue the performance lead with four-socket and above servers due to its more elegant and modern chip architecture. Luckily for Intel, relatively few four-socket servers are shipped every quarter.

Intel has posted a number of Woodcrest benchmarks here. ®

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