Chips Cut Cost of Systems

Intel rolls out new versions of its Itanium 2 processor.

Major OEMs Dell Inc., IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co. have each rolled out new or enhanced systems that use new energy-efficient, low-cost versions of Intel Corp.s 64-bit Itanium 2 chip.

Intel last week launched its much-anticipated "Deerfield" processor, known as Low Voltage Itanium 2, which is aimed at dual-processor systems such as blade servers and workstations. The Santa Clara, Calif., chip company also released a second chip, known internally as the DP- optimized Itanium 2; it is optimized for dual-processor systems used for high- performance technical computing and entry-level, front-end systems, such as proxy servers and network edge systems.

The Deerfield will run at 1GHz with 1.5MB of Level 3 cache, offering the same performance as the previous Itanium chip, known as McKinley, but consuming half the power, Intel said. It will also be significantly cheaper than Intels Itanium 2 6M "Madison" chip.

The DP-optimized chip will run at 1.4GHz but offer 1.5MB of L3 cache, compared with Madisons 6MB.

Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, last week said it will offer the Itanium 2 chips in new configurations of its two-way PowerEdge 3250 server designed for high-performance computing clusters. The new configurations of the 2U (3.5-inch) systems will be available later this quarter starting at $4,999 for a PowerEdge 3250.

Separately, IBM last week released new configurations of its two-way, 2U eServer x382 systems, according to officials with the Armonk, N.Y., company. The version with the Deerfield chip will be priced starting at $8,800, with the one powered by the 1.4GHz processor starting at $9,999.

For its part, HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., at the same time rolled out an enhanced single-processor zx2000 workstation powered by the Deerfield chip. Deerfield will give the workstation a 10 percent boost in power and enable HP to reduce the cost of the system, officials said, although they declined to say by how much.

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications, which is deploying almost 670 of IBMs x382 servers powered by Madison chips, later this year will bring in x382s equipped with Deerfield chips for jobs outside of the centers TeraGrid project, said Rob Pennington, senior associate director for computing and data management at the center, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

"The Deerfields are interesting for low-power systems," Pennington said. "We have many applications where the computing power is not as necessary as with what were doing [with TeraGrid]," such as data management.