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Current Intel "Montecito" Itanium die
Intel's Itanium and Xeon architectures will have more similarities in the future

Intel’s enterprise Itanium and mainstream Xeon server platforms have remained completely independent from each other, in terms of technology. There has never been platform sharing, chipset sharing or anything else in that regards. However, Intel expects to converge the two server and workstation platforms. 

Pat Gelsinger, Intel’s senior vice president and co-general manager of the Digital Enterprise Group, outlined future convergence plans of Xeon and Itanium product lineups in an interview.

When asked how its Core and Itanium architectures will intertwine, Gelsinger responded “The first realization of that is Tukwila [quad-core Itanium] in late 2008, the next step in the product family, where we move to common system architecture elements, as well as full alignment on design tools and process.”

The upcoming Itanium Tukwila will take advantage of Intel’s common system interface, also known as CSI.

As Intel moves its Itanium and Xeon processors converge towards the common CSI-bus, the processors will share more similarities. Cache architectures of the two processors will become similar in the future, as there are no compelling reasons to have different cache architectures between Itanium and Xeon processors.

CSI-bus aside, Intel’s Tukwila-core is the first multi-core Itanium architecture. Tukwila is also the successor to Montecito, which Intel launched last year.

Intel expects to have common platform development as well. Common platforms will allow OEMs to have a single platform for Xeons and lower-end Itanium processors – easing OEM developments.

Those expecting Intel to produce a hybrid x86-64 and IA64 compatible processor will be disappointed, as Intel does not intend to take Itanium and Xeon convergence that far. “I don't see it getting that far, but I am driving these things to be as common as possible,” said Gelsinger.

Update 2/27/2007: The reference we had to Tigerton supporting CSI in 2007 was incorrect and has been removed.

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By Anonymous Freak on 2/26/2007 10:21:48 PM , Rating: 3
This isn't like making a combo gas/diesel vehicle, this is more like making a vehicle that can have either a gas engine or a diesel engine that are easily exchanged. Presently, (to continue my car analogy,) it is like all diesels being big trucks with completely separate manufacturing than gas trucks. This will be like moving to have one manufacturing line, where at the end, you either put in a gas engine or a diesel engine.

In short, Xeons will still be based on the mainstream desktop processor architectures, but the support structures (chipset, front side bus, etc,) will be common to both Xeon and Itanium. This is more like what happened with Centrino's original 'Pentium M' processor. It was more directly based on Pentium 3 than Pentium 4, but it used the Pentium 4 front side bus rather than the old outdated Pentium 4 FSB.

By Dianoda on 2/27/2007 12:05:02 AM , Rating: 3
Think of this as Intel's way of cutting costs where it can from the good (though troubled is closer to reality) ship Itanium. A convergence of platforms means one less platform for Intel to develop. It makes plenty of business sense assuming it doesn't cause any more problems than the one it solves. Intel knows that Xeon is the priority here, so they won't take any unnecessary risks when it comes to protecting that line of products, but it really would like to get Itanium closer to generating a ROI.

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