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Intel is planning to postpone the release of its Itanium 2 successor with 9MB level-three cache to the year 2005, from the mid-year 2004, sources familiar with the company’s plans revealed. The information may be a sad news for customers interesting in accelerated Itanium, but there is also a good news: the next-generation IA64 chip will get faster 667MHz processor system bus.

According to the updated plans of the chip giant revealed by unofficial sources, the follow-up for the current Itanium 2 processor with Madison core, the chip known under Madison 9M code-name, will emerge only in the first quarter 2005, not the third quarter of 2004, as previously planned. The IA64 microprocessor with up to 9MB of level-three cache is engineered for high-end 64-bit multi-processor applications. The delay seems to have its reason – the new chip will get 667MHz processor system bus, something that was missing from the initial information about the product. The shift to higher-speed bus from today’s 400MHz is likely to require Intel or its chipset platforms developers to make certain changes to core-logic for the Madison 9M product.

Intel officially outlined the long-term Itanium processor roadmap in mid-February 2004. The company said the Madison 9M will be out this year and demonstrated that next year will be a big year for the IA64 architecture – Intel will launch the multi-core 64-bit CPUs.

The chip code-named Montecito was expected to be Intel’s first IA64 chip with two cores and 24MB of L3 cache. Processor known under Millington name is a cheaper version of Montecito, probably tailored to serve 2P systems and contain less cache, LV Millington would have lower power consumption compared to the default core. The Montecito and Millington chips will contain two new technologies: Foxton for power management and Pellston for correcting data errors in the cache. The first multi-core circa from Intel – Tukwila – was anticipated to come in 2006, along with another multi-core offspring of the Itanium 2 called Dimona.

It is not clear whether the postponement of Madison 9M is likely to affect the schedules for other future IA64 processors of Intel Corporation.

667MHz will be a magic number for Intel processors designed for multi-processor servers. The company’s next-generation Xeon MP processors with Enhanced Memory 64 Technology code-named Potomac will also sport 667MHz processor system bus. The company recently confirmed plans to unify Itanium and Xeon platforms so that both processors would fit into one socket. But the chipmaker does not indicate when exactly this happens.

Nowadays high-end Itanium 2 lineup from Intel includes 1.50GHz, 1.40GHz and 1.30GHz models with 6MB, 4MB and 3MB L3 cache respectively.

Representatives from Intel did not comment on the report.

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