Intel Expands 64-bit Lines

By | February 9, 2005

Intel has announced that it will be selling a new line of Xeon processors in the next quarter. The new 64-bit processors are code-named “Potomac” and “Cranford” according to Phil Brace, director of marketing for Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group.

Intel first stepped into the 64-bit arena with the “Nocoma” line of processors which were designed for dual-processor servers. 64-bit processors allow servers to take advantage of a much larger memory pool, something that 4-processor servers are more likely to need anyways. As such, the addition of 64-bit processors designed for larger scale servers is a welcome addition to Intel’s Xeon lines.

The processors are designed for four-processor servers, with Potomac geared for high-end work and Cranford for lower-priced machines. One major difference will be in the amount of high-speed cache memory; Potomac will include 8MB–an all-time high for Xeon processors–but Cranbrook will employ less, Brace said.

Intel also announced that it will be releasing a new Xeon for dual-processor servers and a new Pentium chip with 64-bit features. These releases finally place Intel squarely in the 64-bit field, an area where its chief rival AMD has been thriving for more than a year.

The Potomac and Cranford models of the Xeon line are at the heart of a new product push which includes the new 8500 chipset. 8500-based systems will introduce technology for the crucial 2006 transition to dual-core chips. For the first time, there will be two data pathways called front-side buses that connect the processor to the rest of the system.

“As dual-core capabilities come into the market, this platform has been architected to take advantage of that,” Brace said.

The new Pentium processors will also incorporate much needed features for consumer devices. The extra cache, and especially the 64-bit capabilities, promise more performance for PCs running multimedia and some other types of applications now and in the future, said Rob Crooke, vice president of Intel´s Digital Enterprise Group. The chips will fit into manufacturers´ existing PC lines, but are likely to come out first in their priciest, top-of-the-line models.

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