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Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Intel New Itanium Processors With Faster Bus

Intel's new Itanium 2 processors for servers feature a 667MHz front-side bus, a faster link between the CPU and the system's main memory.

Both processors belong in the company's 64-bit "Madison" family, announced in November 2004. The chips run at speeds of 1.66GHz, with computer L3 memory cache sizes of 9MB and 6MB. According to Intel, the revised front-side bus transfers data to and from the chip at speeds of 667MHz. The improved front side bus bandwidth allows for 10.6 gigabits of data per second to pass from the processor to other system components. In contrast, the current generation 400 MHz FSB transfers 6.4 gigabits of data per second.

The improvement to the chipset sets the stage for the forthcoming dual-core Itanium processor, code-named Montecito, which will feature the same bus architecture.

Hitachi will adopt the new Itanium 2 processors into new Hitachi BladeSymphony servers coming in the next 30 days. hitachi has also designed a chipset (the communications controller between the processor and the rest of the computer system) to take advantage of the new bus architecture.

Rival AMD has also introduced an integrated memory controller for its Opteron server chips that directly connects the processor to memory. This has proven to be a very efficient way to get data back and forth to memory, and Intel is expected to use a similar design in coming years.

The Intel Itanium 2 processor at 1.66 GHz with 9 MB of cache with 667 FSB is available for $4,655 in 1,000-unit quantities. The Intel Itanium 2 processor at 1.66 GHz with 6 MB with 667 FSB of cache will be available for $2194 in 1,000-unit quantities.

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