Intels Next-Gen Chip Puts on a Show

NEC and Unisys demonstrate servers featuring beta versions of Itanium 2's successor, 64-bit Madison, due next summer.

While the Itanium 2 has only been on the market since July, its successor, code-named Madison, is already being shown to customers this week at the Intel Developer Forum.

NEC Corp. and Unisys Corp. are each demonstrating servers featuring beta versions of the 64-bit chip thats not due to hit the market until the summer of 2003.

Madison is expected to offer at least 50 percent better performance than a 1GHz Itanium 2 on many enterprise applications.

The next-generation chip will be produced using a 0.13-manufacturing processor, allowing for smaller component features and more transistors on the silicon die than Itanium 2, which is made using a 0.18-micron manufacturing process. Madison is expected to debut at about 1.5GHz and will feature 6MB of on-die Level 3 cache, twice as much as its predecessors. Larger on-die caches enable the processor to access data more quickly and reduce the amount of time it must seek memory data off of the chip.

While Intel and vendors are already touting the next iteration of Itanium, NEC this week heralded the record-breaking performance of an Itanium 2-based 32-way processor.

NEC announced Monday that its TX7 Server achieved the worlds best TPC-C benchmark on a non-clustered Microsoft Windows platform, posting a score nearly double that of the previous record holder.

TPC-C is an industry-standard benchmark used to measure a systems processing performance based on an enterprise transaction model for handling orders.

According to NEC, its Itanium 2-based system achieved 308,620 transactions per minute, nearly double the performance of the previous record holder running Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition on Microsoft .Net Server 2003 Datacenter edition.

The NEC transaction record has a price/performance score of $14.96, the lowest cost performance among the top 10 performers on the benchmark.

NEC, the worlds third-largest server vendor, is a leading proponent of Intels Itanium processor and was the first vendor to demonstrate a 16-way Itanium server running Microsoft SQL Server in 1999.

"The performance results achieved with the 32-processor Itanium 2-based system is a testimony to the ability of the Itanium architecture and the NEC platform to handle massive amounts of data," said Mike Fister, vice president and general manager of the Intel Enterprise Platforms Group.

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