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Intel Corp. on Monday introduced its new Intel Itanium 2 microprocessors for servers and supercomputers. The new chips sport slightly higher clock-speed compared to predecessors as well as significantly booster processor system bus frequency.

“Intel continues to bring new capabilities to the Itanium architecture, evolving the platform to further improve performance for data intensive tasks,” said Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel's Server Platforms Group.

The two new Intel Itanium 2 processors operate at 1.66GHz and are equipped with 9MB and 6MB L3 cache, depending on the version. Both use 667MHz processor system bus, which means that system designers who will use the chips will have to either develop system logic themselves, or to acquire non-Intel chipsets. The new central processing units for multiprocessor (MP) servers will retain power consumption of typical Intel Itanium 2 MP chips of 130W per unit.

Processor system bus at the speed of 667MHz, up from 400MHz, 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.

While the new Itanium 2 processors bring incremental performance improvements over the previous breed of the IA64 chips, the introduction of 667MHz processor system bus for Itanium platforms is a signal for Intel customers to get ready for Intel Itanium dual-core processors, which may be due out later this year.

“Looking forward, we are coming up on the next major milestone for the Itanium processor family - dual-core server platforms based on Montecito. We are extremely excited about the customer and industry feedback we are getting, and the preliminary performance results we are seeing on Montecito-based systems will further expand Itanium's leadership in its targeted market segments,” Mr. Skaugen added.

The Intel Itanium 2 processor at 1.66GHz with 9MB of cache with 667MHz processor system bus (PSB) is available for $4655 in 1000-unit quantities. The Intel Itanium 2 processor at 1.66GHz with 6MB cache and 667MHz PSB will be available for $2194 in 1000-unit quantities. Prices of new Itanium 2 chips are insignificantly higher compared to those of previous top offerings, which retain their pricing.

Hitachi said it would use the new Itanium 2 processors with 667MHz PSB in its blade servers that also use custom chipset from Hitachi.


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