Landmark launch of new Intel chip

Intel is to launch the first microprocessor for the mass market that it has developed almost exclusively at its design centre in Bangalore in a milestone for the research and development of computer hardware in India.

The US-based chipmaker's Xeon Processor 7400 Series will feature six "cores" or processing units built into each chip, making it suitable for use in servers handling intensive enterprise applications. Previous chips had only four cores.

"It's not just services and software that India is known for but this shows you also can do this kind of complex research and development and product design here in India," said Praveen Vishakantaiah, president of Intel India.

India is known for its computer services outsourcing companies that develop and maintain software for third-party clients but its engineering prowess in designing and building information technology hardware is less well known.

Many leading multinational IT companies and some outsourcing groups have long had hardware design units in India, which assist their foreign headquarters or clients in the development of chips and other components.

In the past, few companies had developed complex products for the mass market from start to finish at their centres in India, but that is changing.

"There is a huge gamut of product design that is happening out of India," said Vinnie Mehta, executive director of India's Manufacturers Association of Information Technology.

Intel's Xeon 7400 processor will be used in the high-end segment of the global server market. The server industry generated total sales in the second quarter ended June of $13.9bn, according to IDC research company.

The Xeon 7400, codenamed "Dunnington" during its development, is designed to handle heavy workloads typically associated with memory intensive business applications such as databases, enterprise resource planning programs and other software.

The servers in which it will be deployed would typically be used by IT-intensive companies such as stock markets, investment banks and other organisations.

The development of a chip capable of standing up to the requirements of businesses requires exhaustive testing.

Although not much bigger than a matchbox, the six-core processor contains 1.9bn transistors, each of which must be tested individually. Engineers at Intel's Bangalore laboratories also had to test the chip to ensure it is compatible with almost all existing and forthcoming software.

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