Multithreading, 24MB Cache in Itanium 2s Future

Code-named Montecito, Intel's Itanium 2 processor due out in 2005 will boast multithreading capability as well as a 24MB Level 3 cache, dwarfing the cache size of the current chip.

Intel Corp. will introduce multithreading capability and a massive 24MB Level 3 cache on the Itanium 2 processor due out in 2005.

Code-named Montecito, the dual-core chips cache size will dwarf that of the current Itanium 2 chip—which has 6MB of cache—and the 9MB due out on Itanium 2 next year, according to Lisa Graff, director of enterprise processor marketing for the Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker.

In an interview with eWEEK, Graff said what will enable the cache size and multithreading capabilities will be the more than 1 billion transistors that Intel will be able to place on the chip, which will be manufactured through the companys 90-nanometer process.

Technology used with Montecito—including a Register Stack Engine that does not require data to be sent to memory as workloads are processed, and flexible memory ordering that will reduce the amount of time waiting for data to be processed through memory—will enable the 64-bit chip to keep data on the processor. That is particularly important with a multicore chip as more people are trying to access memory despite limitations on the bandwidth interconnect, she said.

"Itanium as an architecture is optimized for multicore," Graff said.

Graff and other Intel officials are touting what they say are significant advances in the 3-year-old architecture over the past year, particularly with the release in June of Itanium 2 6M, which was code-named Madison. In the second half of the year, the industry began seeing the adoption of Itanium crossing over from the high-performance computing space into the enterprise, fueled by a domino effect that began with Microsoft Corp.s release of Windows Server 2003 in the spring, she said.

The top software makers released versions of their heavy-duty enterprise products—such as the database makers like Oracle Corp. with 9i and Microsoft with SQL Server—all tuned for Windows Server 2003, and all tuned for Itanium. Once those major back-end applications were 64-bit ready, businesses were more willing to make the switch to Itanium, Graff said.

Next page: Over a thousand apps supporting Itanium.