Intel recasts Pentium chip for servers

After years, Intel pitches a new Pentium chip for servers

Intel is giving new life to its Pentium processor for servers, and has started shipping the new Pentium 350 chip for low-end servers.

The dual-core processor operates at a clock speed of 1.2GHz and has 3MB of cache. Like many server chips, the Pentium 350 lacks features such as integrated graphics, which are on most of Intel's laptop and desktop processors.

The iconic Pentium line of processors has been around for more than a decade, but now is mostly targeted at budget laptops and desktops. Pentium was Intel's flagship PC processor line, a mantle now held by the Core chips. The company once offered Pentium III and Pentium II Xeon processors for servers.

An Intel spokesman said the chip is targeted at microservers, which are low-power, compact servers for Web serving and content delivery services. Intel already offers Xeon E3 chips and is soon expected to launch new chips based on Atom for microservers.

The new processor is an acknowledgement of the Pentium brand's staying power, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research. Besides microservers, the Pentium 350 could also be used in inexpensive, task-specific servers for storage, printing or document sharing, according to McCarron.

"What we're seeing is a repurposed part," McCarron said. The Pentium 350 is a cheaper alternative to Intel's PC chips, which could also be used in servers but are more expensive with additional features such as integrated graphics.

The new processor draws 15 watts of power and there's a remote chance it could be used in blades, McCarron said. The processor is, however, not a replacement to Intel's current low-power Atom processors. These are typically for netbooks and tablets, but are also being used in high-density servers such as SeaMicro's SM10000-64HD to process cloud transactions.

Targeting the new Pentium chip at servers could also be a tacit acknowledgement that Intel wants Pentium to replace the Celeron brand, which is the lowest rung of Intel's processors. Celeron processors are used in low-cost desktops and laptops, and in a few cases, low-end servers.

Intel declined to provide pricing for the Pentium 350.

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