Intel's upcoming "Poulson" chip will have greater performance, reliability and power consumption than the current Itanium 9300. However, Intel officials have declined to give a release date.
Intel's upcoming "Poulson" Itanium processor will offer a new
architecture that company officials say will be the foundation for the chip
line for years to come.
officials are scheduled to give more details about Poulson during the ISSCC
(International Solid-State Circuits Conference), which kicks off Feb. 20 and
runs through Feb. 24. They shared some of those details in a conference call
with analysts and journalists prior to the show.
Poulson will offer greater performance, power management and reliability than
the current Itanium 9300 processor-code-named
-which began shipping in the first quarter of 2010,
according to Rory McInerney, vice president of the Intel Architecture Group and
director of the company's Microprocessor Development Group.
the same time, Poulson will continue Intel's push to create a common platform
between the Itanium and Xeon product lines.
essentially have one hardware platform, and you have an Itanium platform ... and
a Xeon platform," McInerney said during the conference call. "We see
both of the products co-existing very nicely."
declined to say when Poulson will be released, saying only, "I'm
comfortable with where it is and we're on schedule." That's an important
step for Intel, which saw several delays in the release of Tukwila. Company
officials also have begun talking about "Kittsen," the Itanium chip
more than a decade, Itanium has evolved from Intel's primary push into 64-bit
computing to a niche product aimed at high-end, mission-critical workloads,
primarily on Hewlett-Packard's Integrity and NonStop servers. They primarily
compete with Unix and mainframe systems from the likes of IBM
said the combination of Itanium and the four-
to eight-core Xeon 7500 chips
gives Intel a solid one-two punch in the high
end of the market. Intel officials last year estimated that 95 percent of
servers shipped every year are powered by x86 chips from Intel or rival
Advanced Micro Devices. However, the other 5 percent make up about 40 percent
of the revenues in the server space, and that is why Intel continues to
innovate on Itanium.
is the latest step in that process and will be the foundation for the next few
years of Itanium innovation, McInerney said. The chip will have 3.1 billion
transistors (Tukwila has 2 billion), will have eight cores, will offer 54MB of
on-die memory and will be pin compatible with the four-core Itanium 9300, he
also will be built on Intel's 32-nanometer manufacturing process. Tukwila is a
certainly putting together a design [with Poulson] that will carry us through
this decade," McInerney said.
will offer improvements in RAS (reliability,
availability and serviceability) that will enable it to reach mainframe
reliability levels, according to Intel. Those improvements center around better
error protection and correction, and end-to-end error detection and improved
firmware error handling, McInerney said.
also will feature double the maximum execution width, from six to 12. According
to McInerney, this means Poulson will be able to issue up to twice the number
of instructions down its execution pipeline than previous Itanium generations.
goal of these optimizations is that all applications will get benefit without
recompilation," he said in a written response to an e-mailed question
following the conference call. "For the end user, this means that we
believe we have an architecture that will provide a significant performance
benefit for Poulson over the Tukwila implementation and builds a foundation for
future Itanium processors."
will be a 33 percent improvement in bandwidth, thanks to higher bus speeds, he
said. Power consumption will be improved via accurate power monitoring and
control, enhancements to reduce power leakage, and better DIMM clock gating.
Poulson will feature reduced overall socket power consumption.
will have a major impact in power management," McInerney said.
another written response to an e-mailed question, he stressed the relationship
between Itanium and Xeon.
Itanium and Xeon platforms deliver outstanding performance and are very complementary,"
he wrote. "Intel believes that with two different mission-critical platforms,
we offer our customers a choice that enables them to best decide what meets
their business needs. At this point in the product development cycle, we
can't comment on Poulson pricing, but what we can say is that we are looking
for the total socket performance to be significantly higher for Poulson than
the previous product generation."
platform attributes include Intel's QuickPath and Scalable Memory
interconnects, chipsets and DDR3 memory.
said that the Itanium chips remain "further than Xeon in terms of RAS
technologies, both from a RAS feature
perspective as well as fundamental design hardening, but we will continue to
waterfall Itanium RAS features across the
Xeon road map."