It may be two years late, but Intel's Itanium processor code-named Tukwila offers twice the number of cores as the current version code-named Montecito, with significant upgrades in memory and network bandwidth, features it shares with Intel's high-end Xeon server chip, and greater virtualization capabilities. The Itanium 9300 series comes as IBM is rolling out four new Power7-based servers and Oracle is integrating Sun into its business.
It took a little longer than expected, but Intel officials have finally
released "Tukwila," the next-generation Itanium processor that offers
significant advances in performance and scalability and a host of features that
improve everything from virtualization capabilities to reliability.
A week after announcing that the company had begun
-now called the Itanium 9300 series-Intel officials on Feb.
8 officially released the processor, which had been delayed several times over
the past couple of years.
However, in the end what businesses will be getting when
systems powered by the new Itaniums roll out in the next three months are chips
with 2 billion transistors, double the number of cores-from two to four over
the current "Montecito" chips-that can run eight instruction threads
each, an 800 percent improvement in interconnect bandwidth, 500 percent more
memory bandwidth and up to 700 percent more memory capacity.
At a news conference announcing the release, Kirk Skaugen, vice
president of the Intel Architecture Group and general manager of the vendor's
Data Center Group, admitted that Tukwila had been a long time coming, but said businesses
would see that it was worth the wait.
"We know there were a few delays over the years, but we
felt it was better to get this right for those mission-critical customers, and
we think we have," Skaugen said.
He added, "We're showing a road map that's ... better than
The 9300 series is coming as competition in the high-end server
market begins to ramp up. At the same time that Intel was unveiling the new
Itaniums, IBM at an event in New
York was announcing systems running its new
with IBM officials
predicting that more Hewlett-Packard customers will migrate off their
Itanium-based technologies to Power7.
In addition, Oracle, on the strength of its $7.4 billion
acquisition of Sun Microsystems, is promising to pump more marketing
and R&D dollars into Sun's SPARC/Solaris
Skaugen and Martin Fink, senior vice president and general
manager of HP's Business Critical Systems unit, said they expect adoption of
Itanium to continue to grow.
"More and more and more, as systems become more powerful,
customers have raised their expectations of what they want from these systems,"
Fink said, adding that the systems become more mission-critical as more
workloads are placed on them.
Skaugen said some businesses started receiving seed systems
with Tukwila in the first half of 2009, "so we expect a very fast ramp."