Intel’s Otellini on quad core strategy: ‘Speed matters again’

SAN FRANCISCO – Intel Corp. on Tuesday announced it will release its first quad core platform in November, promising increased performance and energy efficiency over its current chips on the market.

Branded under the Extreme series, the Intel Core 2 Extreme quad-core processor will feature a 70 per cent performance improvement over today’s IntelCore 2 Extreme platform, executives said. Starting in November, Intel will ship the Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor 5300 series brand for dual processor servers. A low-power 50-watt Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor L5310 for blade servers is slated for shipment in the beginning of 2007. The mainstream quad-core processor, called the Intel Core 2 Quad processor, which will be aimed at the gaming market initially, will ship early next year, according to the company.

With increased computing power required by PC games, applications such as Google desktop search, graphics-intensive operating systems such as Mac OS X and Windows Vista as well as video streaming sites such as the popular YouTube, people are requiring more power from their machines.

“Speed matters again,” said Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini. “Performance matters again after four or five years.”

Otellini delivered his keynote speech to thousands of developers attending this week’s Intel Developer Forum (IDF) here.

Otellini’s comments contrast a movement in the microprocessor industry over the last several years from a focus on feeds and speeds to energy efficiency. Otellini characterized this swing as the “biggest computer shift in over a decade.”

Intel already has 13 PC manufacturers lined up to launch their products featuring the quad-core server processor with it later this fall, including Dell, Gateway, Alienware and Canadian system builder, Voodoo PC.

Quad core computing will allow vendors to sell x86 platforms into higher value workloads such as data warehousing, ERP and CRM, said Alan Freedman, research manager, infrastructure hardware, IDC Canada, who was reached by telephone in Toronto on Tuesday.

Freedman said this notion contradicts with what some industry experts have said about quad core computing meaning the end of Unix and RISC-based systems in the enterprise data centre.

“Quad core will not replace Unix,” he said. “It will give x86 vendors a leg to stand on.”

Because of its large installed base and applications specific to the platform, legacy systems will be around for some time yet, said Freedman.

Otellini also provided an update on Intel’s R&D efforts, announcing that Intel will introduce a 45 nanometre (nm) processor in the second half of 2007. At last year’s IDF, Intel introduced a 65 nm processor, which is now outpacing shipments of the 90 nm processor. The 45 nm micro processor will offer a 20 per cent improvement in performance over the current 65 nm one and will be part of the Nehalem new microarchitecture, scheduled to be released in 2008, said Otellini.

Intel also revealed a details of a prototype teraflop computer on a chip that contains 80 simple cores and operates at 3.1 GHz. The chip won’t be available for another five years.

IDF wraps up on Thursday.

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