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Intel says Itanium will continue to sail for the long run

Intel this week revealed new details about where it plans to take its server processor business, specifically with the Itanium processor. As many know, Intel took a gamble on the Itanium when it was released several years ago. Intel's use of a then uncommon Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing (EPIC) architecture left the majority of the industry unsure of Itanium's practicality in an x86-dominated world. Today however, the Itanium family brings in roughly $3.5 billion per annun for Intel.

Diane Bryant, vice president of Intel's enterprise group, revealed several details that indicate Intel will push forward with Itanium development for the foreseeable future.

Currently, Intel's flagship Itanium 2 processor is the Montecito core. Intel announced Montecito last July, marking the company's first dual-core enterprise and mainframe processor. Until now, Montecito ran on a 533MHz front-side bus but will soon make the transition a 667MHz front-side bus processor in Q4 2007, dubbed Montvale. According to Bryant, Montvale will consist of minor updates, improving bus speed but also improving overall stability.

Recent Intel roadmaps indicate that Montvale will consist of roughly 25 percent of Intel's Itanium business in Q4 2007. By Q1 2008, Intel guidance suggests Montvale will take up a whopping 40 percent of all Itanium 2 sales. Despite Intel's desktop processors currently seeing day light at 65nm, Itanium 2 processors will still be on 90nm manufacturing technology. Montvale will also top out at a core speed of 1.66GHz with a total of 24MB of L3 cache.

Intel's next major milestone in the Itanium family will come with the arrival of Tukwila, a quad-core processor due sometime in late 2008. According to Bryant, Tukwila will be roughly twice as fast as Montecito and feature an on-die memory controller.

This will be a turning point for Intel because with Tukwila's need for a discrete memory controller gone, the company will introduce its long waited common system interface (CSI). Tukwila's use of CSI will be a direct response to AMD's HyperTransport technology. Intel previously stated it will not restrict CSI to the Itanium family, but will eventually use the technology as the main transport bus for the Xeon family as well.

will also come with even larger caches and a new reliability feature called double device data correction (DDDC). DDDC acts as a failsafe mechanism to protect system memory failures from bringing down a live system. In a hardware failure where a memory chip on a memory module fails, DDDC will be able to mark that chip as unusable without compromising system stability. DDDC differs from traditional ECC and parity technology due to its capability to withstand more than one chip failure.

Bryant went on to reveal details about the future release of an entirely new Itanium architecture code-named Poulson. With Poulson, Bryant claims Intel will introduce even more cores; greater scalability and the introduction of 32nm die fabrication for its enterprise segment. The company will skip 45nm technology altogether for Itanium. Bryant did not give details on a possible release date for Poulson although Intel is expecting to introduce 32nm processors in approximately two years.

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RE: This is all a BIG SCAM
By masher2 on 6/18/2007 12:22:44 PM , Rating: 3
> "10 or 20 processors? Jesus Christ, imagine trying to design the chipset for that.."

There have been 8 cpu mobos out for years now. Plug in quad core processors, and thats 32 effective cores.

RE: This is all a BIG SCAM
By Puddleglum1 on 6/18/2007 3:59:11 PM , Rating: 3
Reading his post, it says
I think, in his heart, the original poster may have been intending for the core count to reach this level.
So his main point was not how to get that many cores, but whether it was plausible to go beyond 4 cores at present due to software limitations.

To encryptkeeper: As far as I know, only servers are using more than 4 cores right now, and it's common for up-to-date server applications to add new threads for each new process. 20+ cores is feasible right now, which is why Intel( Sun( IBM, ClearSpeed ( and a few other companies are heavily invested into it.

I agree with you that software needs to catch up before we start seeing more than four cores in a system. But there is already a need for more cores, and 10-20 cores on a motherboard is ridiculous in comparison to the benefits of 8-16 cores on single processor.

RE: This is all a BIG SCAM
By encryptkeeper on 6/18/2007 4:24:52 PM , Rating: 3
Alright, at least SOMEONE understood the post.

"But there is already a need for more cores, and 10-20 cores on a motherboard is ridiculous in comparison to the benefits of 8-16 cores on single processor."

I'm going to guess you meant 10-20 processors on a motherboard is ridiculous...

RE: This is all a BIG SCAM
By masher2 on 6/18/2007 5:11:31 PM , Rating: 2
> "So his main point was not how to get that many cores, but whether it was plausible to go beyond 4 cores at present "

I think one of his subpoints was the difficulty of designing a motherboard around that many processors...hence his quote that I highlit. But thats a side point.

32-way Intel-based servers have been sold for half a decade now. But its not only servers that are using more than four cores. There's a considerable amount of workstation based software (scientific, simulation/modelling, financial-analysis etc) that will easily use 8+ cores.

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