The firm's i960 RD is the first chip to comply with the I2O specification for intelligent I/O and is able to redirect I/O tasks with heavy interrupts from the host CPU to free memory and system buses. Also, the chip is scalable so I/O performance increases with faster processor speeds. Other new features include support for extra PCI cards and 3.3-volt performance to reduce power consumption.
Micronics Computers has already implemented the processor on its M6Dpd motherboard and most PC vendors expect to be able to ship volumes of servers with the chip in June.
"Peripheral devices will adopt I2O and benchmarks are already indicating there will be a big improvement in performance," said Chris Hall, market development manager for servers at Dell UK. "For Pentium Pro and future processors it's obvious."
Duncan Campbell, worldwide marketing manager for Hewlett-Packard's network server division, said the chip will help it "shatter the I/O bottleneck".