Intel this week ramped up its Xeon processor line in a move which analysts believe will put pressure on Risc vendors such as IBM and Sun Microsystems.
The three new processors, codenamed Gallatin, are for use in four- and eight-way servers and run at speeds of up to 2GHz.
The two lower speed chips run at 1.5GHz and 1.9GHz and feature 1MB of cache; the faster version features 2MB of cache.
Intel claimed that, when compared to previous Xeon chips, the new processors deliver up to 38 per cent better performance for typical server workloads such as databases and supply-chain management.
Designed for mid-tier and back-end servers with four or more processors, Intel said that the new Xeons maintain hardware platform compatibility with previous generations of chips.
This helps reduce the cost of platform development and eases the integration of new systems into existing enterprise infrastructures, according to the company.
IBM, Hewlett Packard and Dell are expected to launch servers based on the chips in the near future.
Andy Buss, an analyst at Canalys, suggested that Intel is rounding out its server product offering with the launch. "It is embarking on a consolidating strategy," he said.
Buss added that the chips should also enable Intel to grab some of the remaining market share which it does not own in the four-way space from Risc vendors such as IBM and Sun.
Intel chips currently account for around 87 per cent of all server shipments and more than 73 per cent of all four-way server shipments worldwide, according to analyst IDC.
"Intel has accelerated Xeon, responding to the challenge from AMD's Hammer chip at the low end and to entrenched Risc vendors such as IBM and Sun," said Buss.
He explained that Xeon's increase in speed and price performance may in the end be comparable to Intel's higher-end McKinley chip.
"Xeons come with a large amount of cache and cost a lot to buy," said Buss. "They are more suited to server applications than workstations because of the price and the type of data used by servers."
The Xeon processor running at 2GHz with 2MB of integrated level-three cache is available at Intel's suggested list price of $3,692 in 1,000-unit quantities.
The versions running at 1.90GHz with 1MB of integrated level-three cache and at 1.50GHz with 1MB of integrated level three-cache are available for the suggested list prices of $1,980 and $1,177 respectively in 1,000-unit quantities.
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