Intel Looks to Next Itanium

64-bit processor and hyperthreading for Xeon chips will star at Intel's developer conference.

Intel Corp., still struggling to generate sales of its first-generation Itanium processor, will tout the chips second generation this week at its Developer Forum in San Francisco.

The Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker will also promote a new feature for its 32-bit Xeon processors during the four-day conference.

The 64-bit Itanium, code-named McKinley and set to be launched next quarter, is being tested in pilot systems. Intel said McKinley will offer twice the performance of the current 32-bit Itanium.

To debut at a 1GHz clock speed, McKinley will feature a larger Level 2 cache, an on-die Level 3 cache and an enhanced system bus.

For the Xeon line, Intel will tout hyperthreading, a technology that will boost the performance of Xeon chips up to 40 percent, according to officials with the company.

Hyperthreading enables a single processor to handle two separate code streams, or threads, concurrently, creating a virtual dual processor out of a single CPU.

The first Xeon chips to feature hyperthreading, code-named Foster, are scheduled for release this quarter, possibly during this weeks conference, Intel sources said.

"Ill be looking for some real information on hyperthreading, the road maps for it and more details on the specific benefits of it," said Kevin Krewell, an analyst with Cahners In-Stat/MDR, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Sources said Intel may demonstrate a Pentium 4 processor running at 5GHz. Currently, the fastest Pentiums on the market run at 2.2GHz. At last years forum, the chip maker showed a P4 running at 3.5GHz.

At this years show, which is expected to draw 4,000 developers, the chip maker is expected to reveal more details about what many in the industry consider to be one of its most intriguing new designs, a processor code-named Banias.

The low-power chip, scheduled for release next year, will be aimed at mobile PCs but will also be sold for use in high-density blade servers.

Based on the Pentium III core, Banias will feature a new energy-saving architecture that will cut power to parts of the processor that are not in use, potentially turning components on and off thousands of times per second.

Beyond its server and PC products, Intel will tout its new XScale technology, designed to provide processing power for mobile phones and handheld computers. In addition, Intel will introduce a family of chips designed to power voice, data and media networks.