Intel decided to improve the speed of the front-side bus on its Itanium 2 processor, in preparation for the launch of its first dual-core Itanium processors.
The company will announce two new Itanium 2 processors on Monday with Hitachi,
which demonstrated a chip set that supported a 667MHz front-side bus at the
Spring Intel Developer Forum in March. One processor will be available with 9MB
of Level 3 cache memory, while the other will come with 6MB of cache memory.
Both chips will run at 1.66GHz, as infoworld.com
Itanium is a 64-bit processor based on an entirely different instruction set
than the x86 instruction set used by the vast majority of the world's PCs and
servers. Intel had originally hoped Itanium and its EPIC (explicitly parallel
instruction computing) instruction set would help it usher in the 64-bit era in
server computing, but tepid customer reaction in the first five years of its
existence has led Intel to target the chip as a high-end replacement for older
servers using RISC (reduced instruction set computing) processors.
Improving Itanium's front-side bus speed will help the chip's performance on
applications that require large amounts of data shuffled from the main memory
to the CPU, said Kevin Krewell, editor in chief of The Microprocessor Report in
San Jose, California. The enhancement will have implications on Intel's
upcoming dual-core Itanium processor, code-named Montecito, which is expected
in the fourth quarter, he said.
Montecito consists of two Itanium processor cores that will share a single
front-side bus in some server designs, or take advantage of dual-independent
buses in others. With all those extra processing resources competing for the
same pathway to the memory, Intel needed to improve the speed of this link in
order to take full advantage of both cores, Krewell said.
Itanium is primarily used in multiprocessor servers for high-performance
computing or enterprise data centers. Hewlett-Packard is Intel's largest
partner for Itanium, but Hitachi, Fujitsu, and IBM also dabble in the Itanium