Intel Moves to Broaden 64-Bit Itanium Chip Line

Intel Corp. last week detailed a new development road map for its 64-bit Itanium 2 processor, saying it plans to add both a beefed-up version of the server chip and a lower-priced Itanium later this year.

The company also now intends to ship in 2005 a dual-core Itanium device that puts two CPUs on a single piece of silicon, said Lisa Graff, director of Intel's enterprise processor marketing group.

That processor, code-named Montecito, would be Intel's answer to dual-core chips from IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. IBM already uses dual-core technology in its Power4 processors, and Sun is expected to introduce an UltraSPARC IV chip with two processor cores later this year.

Graff said the upcoming Itanium devices are "absolutely aimed at Sun," as part of Intel's effort to steal away some of the high-end corporate server business that now goes to UltraSPARC-based systems.

In response, Sun spokesman Mark Richardson said the company's UltraSPARC road map "keeps us well ahead of the competition."

Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, N.H., said he doesn't view the new Itanium devices promised by Intel as "Sun killers." But he added that Intel's development plans will put more pressure on both Sun and IBM.

Intel this summer will release an upgraded Itanium 2 chip, code-named Madison, that includes a 6MB cache and a clock speed of 1.5 GHz, Graff said. In comparison, the first Itanium 2 device, which Intel introduced last July, had clock speeds of up to 1 GHz and a maximum cache of 3MB.

The cache will be further increased to 9MB next year, Graff said.

Also in the plan for this year is a lower-priced processor that's being designed for use in dual-processor servers. Graff said the device, code-named Deerfield, will offer the same clock speed and cache that Madison does.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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