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At the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), Intel Corp. has formally unveiled its next-generation Itanium processor code-named Poulson. The new chip sports up to eight cores and up to 50MB of on-chip cache, but the most important innovation of the Poulson is its new IA64 micro-architecture.

"Poulson continues to take advantage of common platform ingredients with Intel® Xeon® architecture," said Rory M. McInerney, vice president of the Intel architecture group and director of the microprocessor development group. 

The Itanium "Poulson" 12-wide issue microprocessor has eight multi-threaded cores with new micro-architecture and a new version of Hyper-Threading technology, a ring-based system interface and combined 50MB cache on the die. The new chip also boasts advances in reliability, availability and serviceability (RAS) to achieve mainframe reliability and resiliency. High speed links of the new chips allow for peak processor-to-processor bandwidth of up to 128GB/s and memory bandwidth of up to 45GB/s, according to Intel.

Among the key core architecture improvements, Intel names new floating point pipeline, new data ant instruction popes, new instruction buffer and doubled max execution width (6 to 12). The innovations allow Intel to increase performance per watt, increase instruction throughput and boosted RAS coverage.

"Poulson’s RAS advances strengthen error protection and correction and end-to-end error detection and improve firmware error handling.  This heightens process resiliency, improves execution integrity, and minimizes service interruption," added Mr. McInerney.

Intel Itanium "Poulson" chip contains 3.1 billion transistors, is made using 32nm process technology and will measure by 18.2*29.9mm, which equals to 545.8mm2 die size, which is smaller compared to previous-generation Itanium "Tukwila" that is 700mm2 large.

The new mission-critical server chip retains pin compatibility with the current Intel Itanium 9300 processor. The new microprocessor will be released commercially later this year. The Poulson will be succeeded by Kittson chip.

"Intel has previously disclosed a follow-on to the Poulson processor code-named Kittson. We are very excited about the possibilities that exist with Itanium moving forward and will be sharing more Kittson product details in the future, as the development phase progresses forward," said the official for Intel.

Intel Itanium "Poulson" microprocessor will complement Intel Xeon EX platform on the market of mission critical RISC servers, which was a $15 billion business in 2009 according to Intel. According to the world's largest maker of chips, Itanium and Xeon processors are both positioned to be major players in this market. Itanium primarily focuses on HP-UX, OpenVMS, NonStop solutions and a handful of mainframe platform solutions. Xeon-EX is a server platform for Windows, Linux and Solaris workloads. Customers have a choice of the platform solution that is best for their particular environment based on OEM system and support capabilities, software requirements, operating system requirements and processor capabilities, Intel said. The company noted that IDC data in 2009 showed that Itanium system revenue as a whole was a larger business than AMD’s Opteron server business.

Tags: Intel, Poulson, Itanium, 32nm, Kittson, HP, IA64

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