Intel ships 'Prestonia' server chip

The chip giant is finally putting the Pentium 4 into servers with 'Prestonia', which will officially launch later this quarter

Intel has begun shipping its next-generation server chip, Prestonia, in sample quantities at an initial speed of 2.2GHz, according to reports.

The chip is Intel's first server platform based on the Pentium 4 architecture, and comes on the heels of Intel's cancellation last year of the "Foster" server processor. Prestonia is based on a 0.13-micron process and will include a 512KB on-chip cache. The Foster version of the chip would have featured an 0.18-micron architecture and 256KB of on-chip cache.

Intel is understood to be in full production on the chip, which is to be officially announced later this quarter. Two Prestonias can be used in a dual-processor configurations, but not in any larger multi-processor setups.

A representative of the chip company told Electronic Buyers News, an industry publication, that the chips were sampling ahead of product introductions by manufacturers later this week. Intel UK would not comment on the report, but said that it is usual to sample chips "some time ahead" of an official introduction.

Intel cancelled Foster last year, saying that Prestonia's launch had been brought up, and that there wasn't enough demand to warrant releasing two server chips so close together. Server customers generally upgrade less frequently than desktop buyers.

Prestonia will finally bring the Pentium 4 architecture into the lucrative Xeon server product line, months after a Pentium 4-based Xeon launched for workstations. Workstation and server chips boost performance by allowing the chip to run in multi-processor configurations and increasing the amount of memory it can address.

The Pentium 4-based Xeon has been waiting for a chipset to enable its server-grade features, according to Intel. Broadcom's ServerWorks division will supply a chipset for Prestonia, and Intel will also manufacture its own Plumas chipset, both using double data-rate (DDR) memory. The workstation version of Prestonia will use Intel's 860 chipset, which uses Rambus memory.

A successor to Prestonia, "Gallatin", is to be unveiled in the fourth quarter. It is expected to have a larger L2 cache than Prestonia, and to support larger multi-processor configurations.

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