Cutting-Edge Performance Drives Chip MakersBy John G. Spooner | Print
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A barrage of multicore chips and virtualization technology is due in 2006.
Chip makers are making clear that they intend to continue to explore advanced technologies such as virtualization and multicore processors to help solve thermal problems and push the performance envelope.
At the Fall Processor Forum last week, Fujitsu Ltd. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. shed some light on technology that will appear in their respective chips next year.
In addition, Intel Corp., which this week is expected to launch its dual-core Xeon MP chip, said it is delaying the release of "Montecito," its first dual-core Itanium processor, until mid-2006 and revamping its Xeon road map.
Tokyo-based Fujitsu will introduce its first dual-core processor in the middle of next year, when it rolls out the SPARC64 VI in the Advanced Product Line of systems jointly developed with Sun Microsystems Inc.
In his presentation, Takumi Maruyama, manager of enterprise server development at Fujitsu, outlined other new features in the SPARC64 VI, including vertical multithreading, which he said reduces the latency when multiple instruction threads are processed simultaneously.
The SPARC64 VI, which initially will top out at 2.4GHz, also will offer a number of reliability features, including more than 2,200 "checkers," or devices that enable the chip to monitor itself.
The next generation, called the SPARC64 VI+, will be built on a 65-nanometer manufacturing process and will run between 2.7GHz and 3GHz. It is scheduled for release in early 2008.
AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., outlined technical details of "Pacifica," the chip-level virtualization technology that will begin appearing in its Opteron and Athlon 64 chips in the first half of next year.
Features in Pacifica, including a memory management element, are designed to eliminate the need for many of the complexities currently required in virtualization software from such companies as VMware Inc., Microsoft Corp. and XenSource Inc.
Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., this week is expected to launch its first dual-core Xeon, dubbed Paxville MP, for servers with four or more processors, and OEMs will be adding them to their product lineups.
Gateway Inc. of Irvine, Calif., will make the dual-core Xeons an option on its existing four-socket 9715 system. IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., this week will unveil the xSeries 460 and 366 systems, four-socket servers.
Mohawk Industries Inc. is planning to deploy dual-core capabilities in systems running both AMD and Intel processors. Jevin Jensen, director of IS, said combining those systems with VMware virtual machines will enable him to add VMs without increasing rack space.
"Expanding the data center can be very costly," said Jensen, in Calhoun, Ga. "Also, current four-way, single-core servers sell at a premium compared to buying multiple two-way units, so going dual core is a new sweet spot."
However, Intel officials last week also announced the delay of Montecito, citing the quality of the chips. Several OEMs that use the Itanium in their servers, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Fujitsu, said they still planned to support Montecito when it is released.
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