Intel Upgrades Power Cheaper Systems

Enhanced Itanium 2 chips are more energy efficient but cost less than the Madison processor.

Intel Corp. on Monday will roll out two new energy-efficient and low-cost versions of its 64-bit Itanium 2 chip, and top-tier vendors Dell Inc., IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co. are preparing enhanced products featuring the processors.

The Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker will launch its much anticipated Deerfield processor, known as Low Voltage Itanium 2, which is aimed at dual-processor systems such as blade servers and workstations. Intel also is releasing a second chip, known internally at Intel as the "DP optimized" Itanium 2, that 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 Low Voltage Itanium 2 processor will run at 1GHz with 1.5MB of Level 3 cache, according to a company spokesman. This offers the same performance of the previous Itanium chip known as McKinley, but consumes half the power, Intel said.

It will also be significantly cheaper than Intels Itanium 2 6M "Madison" chip. Low Voltage Itanium 2 will sell for $744 per 1,000 units, significantly cheaper than the $4,226 for the Itanium 2 6M "Madison" chip.

The "DP optimized" chip will run at 1.4GHz—just a shade under Madisons 1.5GHz—but offer 1.5MB of Level 3 cache, compared with Madisons 6MB. For technical computing and front-end systems, performance tends to be more important than cache sizes, the spokesman said. The chip, targeted to compete with entry-level RISC systems, will sell for $1,172 per 1,000 units.

Both chips also will be discussed at Intels Developer Forum next week in San Jose, Calif.

Major OEMs are ready to add the new chips into their systems. Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, 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 with a single 1GHz processor and 1GB of memory, and $8,499 for dual 1.4GHz processors and 2GB of memory, according to Dell officials.

Dell also offers the 3250, which was introduced in June, powered by Madison chips.

Separately, IBM will offer 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.

And HP will roll out an enhanced zx2000 workstation powered by the Deerfield chip. The single-processor workstation currently uses a 900MHz Itanium2 McKinley chip, according to officials with the Palo Alto, Calif., company. Deerfield will give the workstation a 10 percent boost in power, and will enable HP to reduce the cost of the system, though officials declined to say by how much. The current system is being offered on the companys Web site for $3,298.

The zx2000 is one of two Itanium-based workstations offered by HP. The company also has the two-way 1.5GHz zx6000, as well as five workstations powered by Intels 32-bit Xeon chips.

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications is bringing in almost 670 x382 servers powered by the Madison chip in its part of the second phase of the National Science Foundations TeraGrid, a project being run in conjunction with several other supercomputing centers that eventually will include 20 teraflops of computing power.

Rob Pennington, senior associate director for computing and data management at the center, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, said that while the Deerfield chips would not work in the TeraGrid, they offer benefits in other areas.

"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 the TeraGrid]," such as data management.