On July 30 we were happy to witness the birth of a new generation of 64bit
IA-64 Itanium 2 processors with the Madison core at the conference held in Moscow.
In July the Itanium processors stepped over their infancy period covering
the way from Merced to Madison and turned into an efficient and competitive
solution for modern servers.
The Itanium 2 on the Madison core is equipped with the L3 cache up to
6 MB, made on modern production lines according to the 0.13 micron standard
and has high clock speeds and optimized power consumption. One more indication
of its readiness for the wide industrial penetration is its good software
base: the days when the packets for IA64 could be counted on the fingers
of the hand are over, and now a potential user can choose from several
debugged and optimized operating systems, databases, and over 450 special
One of the main theses voiced at the presentation of the chips with the
Madison core was the advantage of the new processors not in the low-cost
sector though this fact negatively told upon the manufacturers of RISC
processors; a more important factor is the price/performance ratio which
brings the competition against the modern IA64 processors to a risky gamble.
By this summer Intel had to offer the following processors on the server
chips market: a line of the 32bit Xeon DP chips for multiprocessor systems
below and the Itanium 2 family above. What factors could be unsatisfactory
for a potential buyer? Price and power consumption. Well, today we do have
the answer to this question.
One of the announced models is the 1.40 GHz Itanium 2 with 1.5MB L3
cache. The wholesale price (from 1,000 pcs) is $1,172, and the processor
is positioned mostly for sub-$7,000 systems; in other words, the new relatively
inexpensive 1.40 GHz Itanium 2 is meant for the upper server sector, where
Intel promoted its 32bit Xeon chips so far.
The second solution - 1.0 GHz LV (Low Voltage) Intel Itanium 2 with
1.5MB L3 cache - was known only as Deerfield. The new chip is based on
the same Madison core, it is actually another version with the reduced
Unlike other IA64 chips, the new 1.0 GHz LV Itanium 2 consumes only
62W thanks to the low core power supply. Most modern 32bit Xeon chips consume
over 70 W.
Another curious factor able to influence the demand for the LV Itanium
2 is its attractive price - $744 (wholesale). No wonder that the Deerfield
is often called a "budget Itanium 2". By the way, both new processors take
the price niche between the Xeon ($198 - $690) and 0.13micron high-end
Itanium 2 ($1338 - $4227). Noteworthy is the fact that the wholesale prices
for the Xeon MP with 1MB or 2MB L3 cache is within the range of $1177 -
The Deerfield is positioned by Intel for economic rack-mount servers with
the performance identical to Itanium 2 based systems and twice lower power
consumption. By the way, the Deerfield also suits for workstations, for
example, based on the single-chip zx2000 from Hewlett-Packard. At the same
time, there is nothing to be changed in the design of such models based
on the ordinary Itanium 2 as the low-voltage chip is fully compatible with
the current layout. However, the list of solutions for the new platform
was enlarged: together with the new processors Intel launched the Tiger
2 server board for assemblers of Itanium 2 based platforms.
According to IDC's statistics, Hewlett-Packard is a leader among suppliers
of servers and workstations on the Itanium chips, - its share comes to
90%. Systems on the new chips will be produced by many system integrators
including such majors as Dell and IBM. The Itanium chips make a small share
of Intel's business, in the processor sphere the company gets the most
part of the income (over 90%) from the x86 architecture. Intel plans that
the inexpensive Itanium chips will make the IA64 architecture more popular.
Briefly, we got the new inexpensive low-voltage chip Itanium 2. The
IA64 doesn't look exotic anymore and gets a real chance to win users' hearts.
Apparently, this is just a beginning of this story...
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