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Intel Corp. will mark July 2005 as its entry into the dual-core processor server age.

Later this month, the chip maker will begin rolling out the first of four new dual-core server platforms for machines ranging from inexpensive, single-processor boxes for small businesses to multiprocessor Xeon servers and high-end Itanium machines for large businesses.

Based on its new chips’ capabilities, Intel expects to see a relatively quick transition from single-core processors to dual-core processors in servers using its chips.

The dual-core chips, which contain two-processor cores versus the one present in a single-core chip, offer businesses a significant performance boost for what are likely to be relatively small increases in price.

Intel, which shifted its focus to dual-core chips from high-speed, single-core chips last year, says 15 dual-core or multi-core processor projects are either on the market now or in the works.

“This isn’t something we’re viewing as a one-time, single-product introduction,” said Phil Brace, general manager of server and workstation marketing for Intel’s Server Platforms Group.

“It’s the start of a big change in the industry. We’re going to use our scale—multiple product over multiple segments—to move the industry. You’re going to see a multitude of multi-core products coming out within the next year and beyond.”

The first of the four dual-core platforms will pair the Pentium D with a new chip set, dubbed “Mukilteo,” to create single-processor, dual-core servers for small and midsize businesses, Brace said.

Click here to read more about the dual-core Pentium D.

Brace declined to say when the machines would appear. However, sources familiar with Intel’s plans say they will come out July 11.

Following the introduction of Mukilteo servers, Intel will begin rolling out dual-core Xeon DP and Xeon MP processors, code-named Dempsey and Paxville, respectively.

Its Xeon DP chip line was designed for dual-processor systems, while its Xeon MP is aimed at servers with four or more processors.

Dempsey will be part of Bensley, a server platform Intel has said will pair features such as virtualization with a speedier front side bus, PCI-Express for add-in boards, RAID (redundant array of independent disks) along with its I/O Acceleration Technology and Active Management Technology for speeding up input/output and managing hardware. The Paxville chip will have a similar platform.

Next Page: Intel’s servers.

Intel aims to seed thousands of servers based on the two platforms into businesses and software developers as part of an extended testing period.

The program, which is expected to get under way within two to three months, will allow businesses to test drive the dual-core processor Xeon platforms during the second half of 2005.

Servers based on them won’t officially go on sale until 2006. But by that time, Intel figures businesses will be ready to deploy them and software developers will have had time to test and tune their wares as well.

“We do expect to start some pretty aggressive seeding campaigns and are going to get those [Paxville and Dempsey servers] into the hands of users a lot sooner than I think many expected,” Brace said. “We have a broad seeding program that will work with some of our top end customers and ISVs.”

Server maker Dell Inc. says it’s looking forward to offering dual-core processors and virtualization-capable servers.

The two additions, it said recently, boost the capabilities of x86 processor servers for businesses, making them better for server consolidation duties or as replacements for more expensive Unix machines.

Still, server makers don’t typically transition to new hardware technology as quickly as desktop PCs or notebooks because their server models are both more critical to business operations, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research in Cave Creek Ariz.

As technology transitions go, “It’s a safe assessment that dual-core will be deployed very broadly and very swiftly in the server market,” he said. However, “It’s just going to take time for the OEMs to go through their normal product transitions.”

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