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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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RE: Why is Itanium Still Alive?
By Flunk on 2/27/2007 10:06:29 AM , Rating: 4
Actually Itaniums are still the best performing processors that Intel sells. They are used in a lot of high-end servers and super computers. The only problem is that they are not compatible with x86 instructions so Intel has never been able to figure out how to market a cut-down consumer version. Itaniums are in the same sort of class as IBM Power and Sun SPARC processors, enterprise level only.


RE: Why is Itanium Still Alive?
By saratoga on 2/27/2007 11:59:34 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, no. Take a look at Spec scores:

http://www.spec.org/cpu/results/res2006q4/

In int, its comparable to a mid range P4 or Core 1. In FP, its about even with or slightly slower then the Core 2 XE. I'd say the real problem with I2 is that the performance was never there. If it had been, people would have made do without x86 support. But if you can get similar performance with x86 (or way better if you need int), why bother?


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