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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 Calin on 2/28/2007 2:55:35 AM , Rating: 2
The server side of things is Xeon. Itanium, right now, is going for the high performance calculation market (where the programs you run are optimized for every architecture).
Having a non-compatible, very high performance processor with a very slow "compatibility layer" is good if the cost of rewrite/optimisation of programs is small compared to the value of performance you get from that architecture. A 5 million dollar computer, incompatible with every other architecture there is, would be cheaper than a 10 million computer, that can run everything at the same speed, as long as the cost of program porting/library rewriting is in the millions range.
By the way, while some low level libraries are written for the processor in use, others must be optimized based on the best performance to be obtained for the respective architecture - processor type, interconnection type, speed, local memory size for nodes and so on and so on.
The "industry standard" tests with which the big iron builders compete run on architectures (hardware and software) painstakingly optimized for the task in hand.


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