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While Intel’s dual-core processors are right around the corner, before Intel releases them, the company’s single-core Itanium 2 lineup will see an update: the chipmaker is reportedly readying IA64 central processing units with increased clock-speed as well as processor system bus frequency.

The new Intel Itanium 2 chips for multiprocessor systems will work at 1.66GHz clock-speed, will integrate either 9MB or 6MB cache and will also use 667MHz processor system bus, higher compared to today’s 400MHz Quad Pumped Bus. The new IA64 chips are expected to be snatched up by mainframe computer makers such as Hitachi, Fujitsu and Silicon Graphics, notes CNET News.com web-site. Pricing of the chips and manufacturing process Intel uses for their manufacturing are unclear.

Intel’s current high-end Itanium 2 lineup includes three new Intel Itanium 2 processors for multi-processor servers: 1.60GHz chip with 9MB level three (L3) cache at 400MHz processor system bus, 1.60GHz product with 6MB of L3 cache and the 1.50GHz MPU with 4MB of L3 cache.

Currently it is uncertain which platform the new Itanium 2 chips will use. Intel’s E8870 platform only supports 128-bit 400MHz processor system bus, which means that the new chips will require a new core-logic. While makers of mainframe machines generally design their own chipsets, in general, manufacturers of servers rely on system logic from companies like Intel and ServerWorks.

Higher-speed bus is likely to improve scalability of Intel Itanium 2 microprocessors and also advance performance of servers running the chips quite significantly. Still, unlike in the case of dual-core Intel Itanium code-named Montecito processor, Intel Corp. did not let any preliminary benchmarks of the forthcoming Intel Itanium 2 products.

Some expect the formal announcement to be scheduled on the 19th of July, 2004. While Intel Corp.’s officials confirm that the firm is working on a speed-bump of the Itanium 2, they did not confirm any dates.

Intel’s dual-core Itanium chip is expected to release late this year, if everything proceeds as planned, some sources note.

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