ISSCC : Intel details upgrade to Itanium processor

Intel on Monday is expected to detail Tukwila, its next generation of 64-bit Itanium processors that are used in enterprise servers.

The new processor, due for release by the end of 2008, has a quad-core design that doubles the performance of systems with Intel’s Itanium 9100 dual-core processors, said Justin Rattner, chief technology officer at Intel.

Tukwila will be detailed during a session at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week.

The processor will run at up to 2GHz and include the QuickPath Interconnect system architecture with an integrated memory controller for improved communication links between system components, Rattner said. The architecture, different from Intel’s x86 architecture, is designed to support data-intensive applications. The processor works with Unix, Linux and Windows Server OS software.

The boost in performance provided by Tukwila will be an upgrade for the set of developers writing applications for Itanium processors, which are targeted at vertical markets with data-intensive applications, like data warehousing, said Richard Doherty, director of analyst firm The Envisioneering Group.

The QuickPath Interconnect architecture will also be part of Nehalem, Intel’s next-generation x86 processor due out later in 2008. In the first public demonstration of the Nehalem processor at Intel Developer Forum at San Francisco last year, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said QuickPath Interconnect helps Nehalem deliver better performance-per-watt and better system performance.

The Tukwila architecture will include 30M bytes of on-die cache, a 10 percent increase over the current Itanium. It will also include dual-integrated memory controllers, Rattner said.

Tukwila is targeted at servers running enterprise applications, so the design includes an advanced RAS (reliability, availability and serviceability) feature to reduce data corruption and ensure reliable system performance, Rattner said. Advanced RAS features correct errors that may occur when data is being crunched on a processor.

The system is built on a record number of transistors, Rattner said. “To our knowledge, that’s the first 2 billion transistor [microprocessor],” he said.

The Tukwila processor will be manufactured using the 65-nanometer process technology. Intel will skip the 45-nanometer process and jump to the 32-nanometer for the Tukwila processor upgrade, code-named Poulson, said Susan Tauzer, director of Itanium marketing at Intel. No release date was provided for Poulson.

Intel is working closely with Microsoft, Novell/SUSE, Red Hat, Hewlett-Packard and other key OS, system and application vendors on the delivery of Tukwila systems, Tauzer said.

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Agam Shah
Agam Shah
Agam Shah is a reporter for the IDG News Service in New York. He covers hardware including PCs, servers, tablets, chips, semiconductors, consumer electronics and peripherals.

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