Intel forum spotlights extended memory and multi-core chips

Intel chief executive Craig Barrett is due to kick off Intel's annual developer forum today (1 March), with a keynote examining...

Intel chief executive Craig Barrett is due to kick off Intel's annual developer forum today (1 March), with a keynote examining the convergence of computing and communications.

The San Francisco event is important for the chip maker as it attempts to bolster interest among users and gain supplier support for applications that use its Extended Memory Technology, EMT64, and multi-core processors.

EMT64 is available across Intel's family of mainstream 32-bit processors and the company has begun shipping multi-core processors. Last week Intel launched a family of Pentium 4 processors offering EMT64.

One of the big debates of the week is likely to be the licensing issues around multi-core and virtualisation technology. Intel is working on hardware support for virtualisation to allow a server to run multiple applications and operating systems without them interfering with each other. It is also working on multi-core hardware to boost server performance.

But the software industry is still undecided on how to license software for virtualisation and multi-core servers.

Unless consensus is reached, users buying virtualisation and multi-core systems could end up paying hefty software charges, experts have warned. Intel's stance is that software should be charged on a per-socket-basis, ie, based on the number of processor sockets in a machine, rather than the number of cores.

It remains to be seen how licensing in a virtualised server environment would take shape, given that a user may only be dedicating part of a server's resources to a particular application.

Among the technologies Intel is showcasing this week is demand-based switching, a technique it uses to reduce power consumption in datacentres

According to Intel, demand-based switching could cut power consumption by 24%. In a datacentre of 500 dual-processor Xeon servers, Intel said it could save £70,000 a year in electricity costs.

Along with reducing power, Intel is also developing Foxton, a technology it said would allow datacentres to ramp up power by increasing the processor's clock speed and providing a brief boost in performance.

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