Server road map: Beyond quad-core

Multicore server evolution is just beginning

Multicore chips aplenty

A quick rundown of the multicore options available now and those that will soon be on the market.

-- Intel in late 2006 introduced its first quad-core Xeon processors. The company projects it will sell more than a million quad-core processors by midyear. The processors are manufactured by packaging two Intel dual-core processors in a single chip.

-- AMD promises its first quad-core Opteron processors by midyear. They will be manufactured using a "native" design that will place four independent cores on a single chip.

-- IBM has been offering quad-core Power processors since 2005. Similar to Intel, the chips are manufactured using a multichip module.

-- Sun introduced the Sparc-based Niagara in late 2005. The chip has eight cores, each operating with four independent threads. By midyear, Sun promises Niagara 2, which will have eight cores, each with eight threads. Also in the wings, the 16-core, Sparc-based Rock processor is expected by mid-2008.

-- Azul Systems introduced its 24-core Vega chip in 2005. In December, the company announced Vega 2, a 48-core processor.

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