Intel's new platforms coming faster than you think

Posted on Wednesday, March 08 2006 @ 7:05 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Pat Gelsinger, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Digital Enterprise Group, today showed how Intel will deliver superior computing performance and energy efficiency this year while reducing the total cost of IT ownership.

“2006 marks a year of transitions for Intel –– a transition to a new process technology and a powerful new microarchitecture, along with the delivery of new platforms solving tough problems for our customers,” said Gelsinger. “This year we have a line–up of enterprise platforms and technologies that will inspire developers with opportunities and excite IT managers with critical capabilities to manage costs and run their business.”

At the center of Intel’s efforts is a commitment to energy–efficient performance based on a next–generation microarchitecture reviewed earlier in the day by Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner. These multi–core products designed with the Intel® Core™ microarchitecture will enable unique designs and fuel the industry’s most sophisticated office PCs. It will also help IT managers increase responsiveness and productivity while at the same time reducing real–estate and electricity burdens companies face as server data centers grow.

By the end of 2006, Intel Core microarchitecture will be at the heart of PC and server platforms. Noting its remarkable gains in performance for desktop PCs, Gelsinger showcased Conroe, a dual–core processor that can reduce power consumption by 40 percent while delivering greater than 40 percent improvements in computing performance¹.

Additionally, Gelsinger announced that Conroe will now also be a part of Intel’s Professional Business Platform –– codenamed Averill –– available in the second–half of 2006. Averill will deliver world–class IT security and manageability capabilities for businesses through the Conroe dual–core processor along with a new chipset codenamed Broadwater, Intel Virtualization Technology and the second generation of Intel Active Management Technology.

For dual–processor servers and workstations, Intel will ship three new processors in 2006. Sossaman, an ultra–low–power processor, is scheduled to ship next week and is designed for server blades, storage devices and telecommunications equipment. Dempsey is scheduled to ship by the end of the month and is the first processor for a new Intel Xeon–based platform, codenamed Bensley. With the majority of its volume shipping below 100 watts, Bensley will deliver performance–per–watt leadership.

In the third quarter of 2006, Intel will update the Bensley platform with the Woodcrest processor, which will further reduce power consumption by 35 percent while delivering greater than 80 percent improvement in computing performance. Joining Gelsinger onstage was Gary Campbell, vice president and chief technology officer of Enterprise Storage and Servers for HP. Campbell outlined HP’s support for the Bensley/Woodcrest platform offering its server and workstation customers leading performance and performance per watt.

Further reinforcing Intel’s near–term portfolio of leading multicore products, Gelsinger also gave developers their first public view of a running quad–core processor, codenamed Clovertown, for dual–processor servers. Clovertown is socket–compatible with the Bensley platform and is slated to ship in early 2007. It will deliver increased processing capacity and is well–suited for multi–threaded applications, such as those used in databases, financial services and supply–chain management. Additionally, the company also plans to ship a quad–core processor –– codenamed Kentsfield –– for high–end desktop PCs in early 2007.

Intel provided a look at the next generation of Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) for enterprise servers. Server virtualization helps IT organizations streamline their infrastructure, optimize utilization, reduce total costs and improve business agility. Intel began to ship processors with Intel VT last year. Intel’s next generation of virtualization, Intel Virtualization for Directed I/O (Intel VT–d), will include I/O virtualization to assign I/O devices to virtual machines, providing a more robust, higher performance platform for virtualized systems.

The company also announced the immediate availability of a specification for developers to evaluate and design future Intel VT–d supported products. Supporting this development, both Microsoft and VMware executives appeared during the keynote and announced support and collaboration on the Intel VT–d specification.

VMware CEO Diane Greene outlined plans to support Intel VT in all of its enterprise virtualization products, including ESX Server, in 2006. Today VMware supports Intel VT in its Workstation 5.5 and VMware Server products, and plans to have production support for Intel VT in the second half of 2006. The two companies are beginning broad co–marketing program to drive the adoption of server virtualization. VMware will also support Intel’s latest Virtualization Technology, VT–d in 2007.

Microsoft’s Bob Muglia, senior vice president, Server & Tools Business, also joined Gelsinger on stage and discussed Microsoft’s collaboration with Intel on the specification for Intel VT–d and how this technology provides a hardware foundation for the Windows* virtualization architecture. Additionally, Muglia discussed how the two companies are collaborating to advance PC manageability capabilities for IT. Intel Active Management Technology (Intel AMT) combined with Microsoft’s Systems Management Server product will provide IT managers with the ability to manage PCs on their networks even when these devices are turned off or have inoperable hard drives or operating systems.

Intel AMT allows IT managers to remotely manage and maintain those systems without disrupting the end–user. In addition, Gelsinger reviewed Intel’s next generation of Intel AMT and a new feature codenamed Circuit Breaker. This feature proactively protects against such incoming threats as viruses, isolating infected PCs before they impact the network, and alerting IT when threats are removed.

Further advancing the security capabilities of future PC platforms, Gelsinger announced that a preliminary specification for LaGrande Technology (LT) is now available for developers. LT consists of hardware extensions to Intel silicon that enable the platform to protect against software–based attacks and protect the confidentiality and integrity of data on the PC. Intel will also make LT hardware available this year on select business desktop PC platforms, including platforms based on Averill, to encourage innovation of new PC security capabilities and help developers identify enhancements to LT in preparation for growing customer adoption of these new applications.

“Platform evolutions for PCs and servers are only part of the story,” said Gelsinger. “We are seeing tremendous growth in services over IP, and this means more opportunities for developers to design and configure the networks required to deliver them.” Gelsinger pointed to the roadmap of Intel Core microarchitecture products addressing the equipment needs of service providers while at the same time improving server density and manageability in these new network data center environments.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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