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Intel Corporation introduced today a pair of new Itanium 2 processors priced at only $1172 and $744. Such pricing is the lowest in the whole IA64 history and probably ignites a new era for this architecture and the whole Itanium family of CPUs. Previously available for only high-end servers and highest-end workstations for software developers, the IA64 chips are now an option for lower-cost, lower-power systems for technical computing, front-end enterprise applications and even workstations.

The two new processors are the Intel Itanium 2 processor at 1.40GHz with a 1.5MB L3 cache and the Low Voltage Intel Itanium 2 processor at 1.0GHz with a 1.5MB L3 cache, which consumes approximately 62W – half the power of existing Itanium 2 processors. Both CPUs are designed to work in 2P systems. Intel said the new IA64 microprocessors are suitable for technical and scientific computing systems; various clusters; entry-level, front-end enterprise systems as well as network edge and software engineering workstations.

You should not expect massive performance from the 1.0GHz chip with 1.5MB L3, especially in 32-bit mode, however, the fact that Intel is offering an IA64 chip for such relatively low price is definitely worth noting.

Intel expects the number of server and workstation models based on the Itanium processor family, including systems from Dell, HP and IBM, to double this year to more than 40 two- and four-way systems. In addition, Intel offers to manufacturers a rack-optimized, dual-processor Intel server platform for these new Intel Itanium 2 processors.

The Intel Itanium 2 processor at 1.40GHz with 1.5MB of L3 cache and the Low Voltage Intel Itanium 2 processor at 1.0GHz with 1.5MB of L3 are now available worldwide for $1172 and $744 in 1000-unit quantities, respectively. It is quite possible that soon after the release of $774 Itanium 2 CPU there will be IA64-based solutions for approximately $5000 - $6000, and a lot of software developers will, at least, consider the acquisition of such system in order to get ready for the transition to Intel’s 64-bit architecture that is to happen sometimes in the second half of the decade, maybe even sooner than we think it is.

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