Itanium 9300 Series Brings New Features
The Itanium 9300 series comes with a number of new features, including several that it now shares with Intel's upcoming x86 Xeon "Nehalem EX" processors, a move officials said will give customers greater value and flexibility and will fuel greater innovation. Among those features are the QuickPath Interconnect, the Scalable Memory Interconnect, and the Intel 7500 Scalable Memory Buffer and I/O hub. The Scalable Memory Buffer helps the chip take better advantage of DDR 3 (double data rate 3) memory. Intel made the move from fully buffered DIMMs (dual in-line memory modules) to DDR3 memory, which delayed the release of Tukwila for about a year.The Tukwila chips also use the second generation of Intel's Virtualization Technology, and the vendor's 7500 chip set can assign networking devices to virtual machines. HP's Fink said the new Itaniums coupled with features that HP offers in its servers will feed into HP's converged infrastructure push, in which resources such as computing, storage, networking and applications can be allocated as needed. The key for HP, he said, is the company's ability to offer products in all those areas. "We're the only vendor in position to do that," Fink said. Scalability will be key, and customers that currently are running older Itanium chips or HP's PA-RISC processors will see a 40 percent boost in performance in systems with the Itanium processors, he said. HP is by a large margin the top buyer of Intel's Itanium chips-primarily for its Integrity and NonStop servers-and the company will roll out new Tukwila-powered systems within three months, Fink said. He declined to give details. Finks shrugged off questions about Tukwila's delays on HP. "We certainly weren't happy about it, but it wasn't a critical setback," he said. The HP-UX operating system is run in 85 percent of all Itanium systems, according to Intel. Several other vendors also have announced support for the Itanium 9300 series. Supermicro is readying four-socket Itanium systems that it will sell to white-box makers, and Red Hat said Red Hat Enterprise Linux Version 5 will support Tukwila. The Red Hat support is important, particularly given the company's earlier decision to cancel the support due to frustration over the delays. Skaugen said Intel is now on track to release a new version of Itanium every two years. Up next is "Poulson," which he said will double the number of cores, improve hyper-threading capabilities and offer greater reliability features. It also will be built on Intel's 32-nanometer manufacturing process. Tukwila is a 65-nm chip. Two years later will come "Kittson," he said. Skaugen stressed the binary and socket compatibility Poulson and Kittson will have with Tukwila. Much of what delayed Tukwila-such the shift to DDR 3 memory and the closer working situation for Intel engineers in Oregon and Massachusetts-has been dealt with, Skaugen said, adding that Intel is confident in its road map.
For greater energy efficiency, the new Itanium chips also have an enhanced form of Demand-Based Switching, which can reduce the power consumption when utilization is low, and Intel's Turbo Boost technology, which enables users to scale the power to individual cores up or down. That feature also is found in Intel's x86 processors.