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Intel Corp. on Monday said it would delay the release of highly-anticipated dual-core Itanium processor intended for high-end servers. The delay was caused by necessity to do some additional testing of the processor in order to meet production quality. Additionally, Intel is expected to remove a high-end flavour of the chip from the roadmap.

Montecito Needs Additional Testing - Intel

“We have seed units [dual-core Itanium] out, and the performance looks pretty good, but we decided we needed time to do more testing to hit significantly high quality for this mission critical product,” William Giles, an Intel Corp.’s representative said.

Intel’s dual-core Itanium product code-named Montecito will deliver twice the performance of the current Itanium products, which is pretty natural as the next-generation flavour of the Itanium sports two processing engines instead of one as well as larger caches. The dual-core IA64 processors are expected to reach volume production in mid-2006, instead of the first quarter of 2006. The delay means that it will have taken Intel a bit less than two years to ramp up production of the processor, as the first working silicon of the Montecito was demonstrated back in August, 2004

“We’re not going into details on the specifics of the processor other than to say we’re not satisfied with the quality right now,” Intel spokesman Scott McLaughlin is reported to have said.

While there are no official details out, additional testing of the new Itanium could have been expected, as Intel currently supplies only one E8870 core-logic for the Itanium 2 chips, whereas many of its customers rely on their own chipsets for the IA64 products, which requires additional qualification runs. Additionally, given huge power consumption and thermals of the new chip, particular applications that will utilize the microprocessors also need to be tested with the new processors to ensure stability and reliability.

Intel Cuts Specifications of the Future Itanium

Intel also said that the dual-core Itanium chips known as Montecito will also not use high-speed 667MHz processor system bus along with the dual-core Itanium processors and will also not enable Foxton technology that could dynamically overclock the Montecito microprocessor by 200MHz when conditions allow.

The first three Itanium 2 processors based on the Montecito core were projected to be single-core 1.60GHz (model 9010), dual-core 1.40GHz (model 9020) as well as dual-core 1.60GHz (model 9040). Dual-core Itanium 2 processors were expected to have 18MB of L2 cache as well as 533MHz processor system bus (PSB), whereas the single-core flavour was claimed to sport 6MB of cache and will use 400MHz PSB. In the second quarter of 2006, Intel was expected to release its Itanium processor with two processing engined and 24MB of cache at 1.80GHz clock-speed. In the same quarter the manufacturer planned to refresh the 9010, 9020 and 9040 lineup with a faster 667MHz Quad Pumped Bus.


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