Intel had said the two architectures, which use different instruction sets, would be designed to use as many common components as possible. But Intel spokesman Scott McLaughlin said Friday that the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip company had decided to confirm that the two chips will use a common physical socket.
"Our goal is to take Itanium and Xeon and share the same kinds of components in that same system," McLaughlin said. "One of the things weve talked about is should the socket be the same, so a designer can design one system."
The common socket will mean that a Xeon and an Itanium will be able to be swapped for each other, McLaughlin said. Both architectures will use 64-bit addressing and will contain multiple microprocessor cores on the same die.
The decision would seem to place both architectures on a collision course, something industry watchers began speculating about when Intel first disclosed its 64-bit extensions to the Xeon line in February. The Itanium is optimized for compute-intensive, scientific applications that require large amounts of floating-point processing power, while the 32-bit Xeon chip has been used in lower-cost, scalable clusters and general-purpose servers.
McLaughlin said the companys plans could change between now and 2007 but that a common socket is the new plan of record. "Its a ways out there," he said of the 2007 date.