Intel untangles dual-core chips

IDF: Intel on Tuesday unveiled its first dual-core Xeon and Itanium processors, together with a raft of upcoming technologies
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor
Intel chief operating officer Paul Otellini unveiled the company’s first dual-core processors, together with a new virtualisation technology, to kick off his opening keynote at the Intel Developer Forum in San Jose on Tuesday.

When it ships, Tulsa will be Intel's first dual-core IA-32 Xeon processor: it has hyperthreading, so appears to software as four processors. M Meanwhile, Tanglewood will be the first multicore Itanium, with a projected performance at least seven times faster than the current chip. Tanglewood is also the first Intel chip to be designed by the team who produced Digital's Alpha processor: it will be available “post 2005”, and Tulsa is “two to three years out.”

Otellini also demonstrated the Vanderpool virtualisation technology, but kept the detail vague. Vanderpool is a combination of hardware and software that produces multiple virtual X86 computers from one motherboard: Otellini showed one virtual machine serving video across a network while another ran XP and was rebooted. “It's very exciting technology”, he said, “and we're working feverishly to bring it to market”. However, no date was given.

The IDF stage was also used to demonstrate a prototype Universal Communicator, which is a cellphone with GSM, GPRS and Wi-Fi; and the SGI Altrix 3700, a 128-processor Itanium-2 machine running Linux. Otellini said that Intel was working hard on low-power 802.11 chipsets to bring Wi-Fi to PDAs and other devices.

Otellini also reaffirmed Intel's commitment to trusted computing and digital rights management. LaGrande is now one of Intel's key technologies, he said, and will be delivered in the next two to three years. It is silicon technology that protects screen, keyboard and memory contents “from all known main causes of theft and disturbance”. He said that it would probably be introduced like hyperthreading, with parts available with and without LaGrande, and the user able to choose whether to enable it or not. In time, though, all Intel parts would have the technology. It will work with many different operating systems and applications but, Otellini said, the majority of work is being done with Microsoft.

A second strand of security was shown with DTCP-IP, Digital Transmission Content Protection over IP. This is, said Otellini, a “seamless way for high-value content owners to deliver to the home, and move content around the home, with the content protection they need to release it in the first place.” Developed by Intel in conjunction with Hitachi, Matsushita, Sony and Toshiba, it aims to prevent streamed media content from being viewed by naughty people. It's been enthusiastically endorsed by companies such as Warner Brothers, who said at the keynote that it will offer consumers more convenience, more choice and a richer array of possibilities. No further details of these were offered. On the business side, Otellini said that Intel was on track to deliver revenue shipments this year of Dothan and Prescott, the eagerly awaited 90nm mobile and next generation IA-32 chips. He also said that Intel would be increasingly looking outside the US for major markets, with the North American market due to decline from half of global sales to a quarter in the near future. “This will affect where products are designed, and their affordability”, he said.

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