Intel's Itanium 2 processor wins wide support

Intel Corp. and several partners are ramping up chipsets designed to optimize the company's upcoming Itanium 2 64-bit processor.

Not only will Intel offer its own E8870 chipset for Itanium 2, but compatible Itanium 2 chipsets from Hewlett-Packard Co., Hitachi Data Systems Corp., IBM Corp., and NEC Corp. also will arrive in time for the introduction of Itanium 2, said Doug Shuda, a product marketing manager for Intel, with headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif.

Shuda said that at this stage, Intel wants the industry to be aware of the number of chipsets that will support Itanium 2 when it arrives later this year. "[There will be] not just an Intel chipset but a number of OEM solutions; nine-plus chipset options that folks can go out and pick and choose from if they need to," said Shuda.

Formerly code-named McKinley, Itanium 2 will be the second chip of the company's 64-bit line of Itanium processors, and should offer as much as twice the performance of its parent chip, according to Intel.

With Intel's E8870 chipset, computer manufacturers will be able to build either four- or eight-way Itanium 2 servers, said Shuda. An E9870 Scalability Port enables manufactures to expand outwards into configurations beyond eight-way systems.

Using the scalability port and the E8870 as a building block, companies such as Unysis and Bull also are developing 16- and 32-way Itanium 2 server architectures, said Shuda.

The E8870 offers support for larger memory, higher I/O bandwidth, and improved connectivity, and will optimize Itanium 2 for compute environments such as databases, business intelligence networks, security deployments, and high-performance computing, said Shuda.

Forward-compatibility with future versions of the Itanium processor family is also a feature of the E8870, Shuda said.

"The E8870 will support Itanium 2 in 2002, it will also support the Madison and Deerfield products coming out in 2003, as well as the 2004 Montecito products," he said.

Madison, Deerfield, and Montecito are each Intel code-names for future versions of Itanium.

As for the non-Intel chipsets planned for Itanium 2, Hewlett-Packard's zx1 chipset is designed for one- and two-way workstations and two- and four-way servers. Hitachi's ColdFusion-2 chipset will enable as much as an eight-way Itanium 2 server. IBM's X-Architecture chipset can support as much as a 16-way Itanium 2 server. And NEC's Itanium 2 chipset can support as much as a 32-way Itanium 2 server using dual 16-way architectures and Intel's scalability technology.

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Dan Neel

Computerworld

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