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Intel's Dempsey Goes For KO
Systems based on next-gen processor scheduled for this week
By Kristen Kenedy, CRN
11:00 AM EDT Tue. May. 23, 2006
From the May 22, 2006 CRN

Systems based on Dempsey, Intel’s next-generation Xeon processor, are slated to start rolling out on Tuesday, as the chip maker works to revive enthusiasm for its server offering.

Intel, Santa Clara, Calif., is positioning Dempsey, which originally was expected to roll out earlier this year, as a low-priced server option. Two low-end versions of the chip are slated to be priced at less than $200 in low quantities—one is exclusively a boxed processor aimed at the system builder channel, according to Boyd Davis, general manager of Intel’s Server Platforms Group Marketing. Intel in March promised system builders a low-cost Dempsey SKU specifically aimed at the channel. Intel will offer two models, one at 2.6GHz for the channel and the other at 3GHz, at the low price point. In contrast, AMD's currently prices its competing 2.6GHz, 95-watt model at $1,051, in low quantities. But AMD is expected to announce new processors this summer and will likely drop prices on existing parts.

Advanced Micro Devices, meanwhile, has been steadily gaining ground in servers on the strength of its dual-core Opteron processor, which many system builders say is faster and requires less power than Intel’s current dual-core Xeon offering. Analysts say Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD more than doubled its server market share in 2005.

System builders have said Intel’s announcement supporting Dempsey is expected to be somewhat low-key because the chip maker will put most of its resources into promoting Woodcrest, Dempsey’s successor, which is expected to show up in systems as early as June.

Woodcrest is Intel’s first processor based on a new architecture aimed at providing a significant performance boost with less power.

Woodcrest processors are watts, and the chip maker expected to require 80 also plans a 40-watt version, according to published reports. Dempsey processors run at 95 watts to 130 watts, depending on the model.

Davis said Intel’s guidance to customers that select product “to be purchased over a large period of time” should focus on Woodcrest. “Dempsey has strong performance and enables value price points,” he said. “Multinationals and the channel will adopt Woodcrest in high volume and drive Dempsey where it is right for customers.”

Byron Hay, production manager at HBR Technologies, a solution provider in Carrollton, Texas, said some high-performance computing customers are already starting to ask for competitive bids for new Intel processors vs. Opterons. That’s proof, he said, that Intel is gaining back some mind share.

SuperMicro, San Jose, Calif., a popular supplier of server motherboards and barebones, is offering 31 SKUs for Dempsey and Woodcrest, including a value barebone priced at $500 to $600, said Tau Leng, the company’s director of marketing. Leng said SuperMicro’s motherboards were engineered to accept either Dempsey or Woodcrest CPUs to help system builders manage inventory.

Though Woodcrest will clearly be the power advantage for these systems, Leng expects Dempsey to have a long life. “Dempsey is going to last for a while because of the pricing advantage,” he said.