Intel unveils dual-core Itanium 2

Intel has taken the covers off ‘Montecito’, a dual-core version of its Itanium 2 server processor.

Intel unveils dual-core Itanium 2

Aimed at heavy-weight computing needs, such as business analytics and large data warehousing, Intel claims the new 9000-series chips double the performance and have lower energy requirements compared to the existing single-core versions, there’s also a tripling of cache.

It is the most significant development of the server chip since the launch of Itanium 2 in the summer of 2002.

There are five new processors making their debut – 9050, 9040, 9030, 9020, 9015 and 9010 – and Intel highlights the intricate product design, which involves 1.7 billion transistors. It is this, the company claims, that bolsters virtualisation capabilities and improves cache reliability. Note that with Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology, the chips can execute four threads per processor.

Unlike the X86 architecture of the dual-core ‘Conroe’ desktop chip that was unveiled last week, the Itanium is based on an EPIC (Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing) architecture and was co-developed by Intel with HP back in the late 1990s. It was designed to provide high levels of parallelism (note, however, that there is compatibility for x86 applications). As such it is up against RISC (reduced instruction set computer) offerings from the likes of IBM and Sun that target high-performance computing needs.

Software for Itanium systems include Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft SQL Server 2005, and Microsoft lined up behind the oft-troubled Itanium (dubbed the Itanic by Sun’s Scott McNealy) to lend its support: ‘Microsoft is resolute in its support of the Itanium architecture, today and in the future,’ declared Bob Muglia, senior VP of Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business.’ (HP pulled out of its partnership with Intel and quit further development of the Itanium processor in 2004.)

‘Intel remains focused on removing the proprietary shackles that remain in the high-end of the server market segment, and with Dual-Core Itanium 2 processors we are delivering unprecedented IT freedom with a product that excels in performance, reliability and improved energy efficiency,’ said Pat Gelsinger, general manager, Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group.

In terms of pricing (based on 1,000 unit orders), the Dual-Core Itanium 2 processor 9050 (1.6GHz, 24MB of cache, 533/400 MHz system bus speeds) will cost $3692, the 9040 (1.6GHz, 18MB, 533/400 MHz ) $1980, the 9030 (1.6GHz, 8MB, 533/400 MHz) $1552, the 9020 (1.42GHz, 12MB, 533/400 MHz) $910. the 9015 (1.4GHz, 12MB, 400 MHz) $749 and the 9010 (1.6GHz, 6MB, 533/400 MHz) $696.

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