Intel Drives Itanium Road Map Toward 32 Nanometers - InformationWeek

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Intel Drives Itanium Road Map Toward 32 Nanometers

The next-generation high-end Itanium microprocessor due out after 2008 is expected to be built on a 32-nanometer process and would include a new microarchitecture.

Intel on Thursday unveiled the product road map for its high-end Itanium microprocessor, saying that customers could expect to see a new microarchitecture and a migration to a 32-nanometer manufacturing process.

At a San Francisco news conference, Diane Bryant, VP and general manager for Intel's Server Platforms Group, led reporters on a trail that started with a refresh of the current Itanium 2, set to ship this year, and ended with a new microarchitecture that would be available after 2008.

Intel launched the current Itanium 2 dual-core processor, code-named Montecito, a year ago. Itanium, introduced in 2001 as Intel's foray into the high-end server market, is the company's only chip based on a RISC architecture. Hewlett-Packard is Intel's largest customer, driving Itanium first as the underpinnings for Unix. The processor today also powers Windows and Linux.

The Montecito refresh, code-named Montvale, was on track for delivery this year, said Bryant, declining to get more specific on a release date. Montecito and Montvale are dual-core processors made in a 90-nanometer manufacturing process.

In 2008, Intel plans to ship Tukwila, which is expected to run on a next-generation Itanium platform, but leverage the same microarchitecture as Montvale and Montecito. Intel also plans to use a 65-nanometer process for Tukwila, which will produce a significant boost in performance through an increase in the number of transistors on a chip.

Tukwila will be a quad-core processor, and include integrated memory controllers, more threads per core, and a new high-speed interconnect, which would replace the current front-side bus interconnect. Bryant declined to provide details on the new interconnect.

In addition, Tukwila will include "double device data correction," which means it can handle errors on two separate DRAM modules on a memory stick to prevent a system crash. Currently, Itanium can only isolate one module when there's an error in memory.

In a nod to motherboard manufacturers, Tukwila will share a common chipset with Intel's high-end Xeon processor. Software running on the latter, however, would not be able to run on Tukwila and take advantage of all its features.

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