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Intel representatives told at IDF the company planned to cope with the microprocessors that combine two processing cores. Currently Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard already develop such CPUs, while IBM even sells some commercial servers based on their dual-core chips. As we see now, Intel does not want to be behind the leaders and tries to introduce their own product of this kind.

The reasons to combine two processing cores per one CPU are quite clear. Most of big and powerful servers utilise pairs or microprocessors. If we join two chips in one package, the actual CPU will be much less expensive compared to a couple of ordinary units. The economy will be even greater when buying a lot of processors for powerful servers. Presently Intel has their flagman Itanium 2 priced so high that certain customers prefer to purchase solutions from Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and IBM. As a result, Intel has to lower the price on their 64-bit CPU in order to gain its popularity among the vendors. According to analysts, the Santa Clara based CPU developer will be able to decrease the cost of a pair of Itanium processors about 1.5 times if it manages to combine two cores in one CPU.

Why there are no dual-core microprocessors from Intel today? The answer is simple: current manufacturing technologies do not allow the leading MPU maker to incorporate two cores in one CPU. For instance, the Itanium 2 chips are manufactured using 0.18 microns technology and their area is about 400 to 450 square millimetres. This means that these semiconductors are very hard to manufacture, their yields are low and the heat they dissipate is enough to boil some water. As a result, it is impossible to develop dual-core IA64 CPU nowadays. It will not be possible to roll them out in 2003 as well, since next year Intel will only introduce its Madison CPUs made using 0.13 micron technology. The latter are also going to be pretty large: 200 to 300 square millimetres. However, in 2004 Intel will reveal its 90nm 64-bit chips with 150 square millimetres area; the 65nm ones will follow in 2005. As a result, Intel will be able to manufacture a dual-core chip with the area of about 300 square millimetres, or even less, what is not that big at all. In case the company decides to wait for 65nm technology, the area will be even smaller and the product easier and cheaper.

According to what Intel representatives told us at IDF, dual-core IA64 CPUs will appear sometimes in 2005. It is a very realistic plan, to tell you the truth.

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