October 29, 2004 12:02 PM PDT
Intel to debut new Itaniums Nov. 8
The processor, an upgraded member of the Madison line, boosts high-speed cache memory from 6MB to 9MB--thus its nickname: Madison 9M. In addition, Intel is expected to update the rest of its Itanium 2 family, adding a lower-end model for dual-processor servers and a low-voltage model for servers that are packed densely together.
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The launch is expected to dovetail with the release of the Top500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers. NASA's new Columbia supercomputer, a top contender for the No. 1 spot, includes the newer chips as part of Silicon Graphics Inc.'s new Altix 3700 Bx2 server.
SGI had said Columbia could perform 42.7 trillion calculations per second, or 42.7 teraflops. But an unpublished test that included the new Itanium 2 9M processors clocked the machine at 51.9 teraflops.
The newer chips in Columbia boost software performance significantly, Richard Dracott, general manager of Intel's enterprise platforms group, said Tuesday at the unveiling of the supercomputer. "We're seeing a 30 to 40 percent improvement in some of the codes," he said.
Intel declined to comment on the schedule beyond reiterating that the chip will arrive by the end of the year.
SGI had planned to unveil its Altix 3700 Bx2 on Nov. 1, but the company advanced the announcement after executives released details. Hewlett-Packard, the co-developer and biggest booster of Itanium, is staying mum until Nov. 9 about its new Itanium servers.
HP is expected to announce a new entry-level dual-processor Itanium server. The move comes as Intel works to drive down Itanium costs; the current lowest-end Itaniums are priced at $530 each when purchased in quantities of 1,000.
Itanium has had its lumps, including years of delay and shipments that still aren't meeting Intel's goals. The chipmaker no longer hopes to double its shipments of Itaniums this year; previously, the company had sought to go from 100,000 shipped last year to 200,000 this year, said Mercury Research analyst Dean McCarron.