Pressing to keep a void from forming in its server product line while new CPUs wait until next year, Intel will tomorrow formally unveil a version of its 200-MHz Pentium Pro processor with twice the Level 2 cache of its predecessors.
The Pentium II CPU, which is slated to replace the Pentium Pro, can readily scale only to two CPUs in a system. A version of the Pentium II that uses 0.25-micron Deschutes technology will be capable of handling four-way and larger server applications but will not be available until March or April next year.
The new Pentium Pro will give vendors an upgrade path for their systems based on multiprocessing architectures. It offers 1M byte of Level 2 cache, compared with 512K byte of Level 2 cache on current Pentium Pro processors.
The chip is expected to be substantially more expensive than the $1,035 512K-byte version.
One company that will offer the new Pentium Pro in systems at its launch Monday is Sequent Computer Systems Inc. The NUMA-Q 2000 system, described as a high-end, data center-ready Unix box, scales to as many as 252 processors.
"These are really high-end systems," says a Sequent representative.
Although exact prices for the systems have not yet been set, the chip's performance makes even a high price justifiable, the representative says.
The Sequent representative said the CPU offers a 15% to 20% performance gain over the 512K-byte processor.
"[The performance gain] made a significant difference for Sequent," the representative says.
"It's making a difference in the very high end," says a source close to Intel.
Samples of the devices are already in system vendors' hands, the source said. System OEMs are using these devices to qualify the parts for use in new systems, a lengthy process in high-performance, multiprocessor systems, the source says.