Intel puts new server chips on roadmap

IDF: Intel's latest server chip roadmap fleshes out the future for Xeon and Itanium processors in a flurry of codenames
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor
Intel has underlined its commitment to multicore processors and ultimately a unified Common Platform Architecture with a new server roadmap unfolded at IDF on Tuesday.

Abhi Talwalkar, who earlier this year replaced Mike Fister as general manager of the Enterprise Platforms Group, revealed more details about the Montecito dual-core Itanium 2 processor for multi-processor (MP) platforms. This was demonstrated for the first time at the forum and is due for launch next year.

Montecito will include Silvervale, a server virtualisation technology that Talwalkar said has already been running with Linux, as well as Pellston and Foxton. Pellston adds memory error robustness that lets systems continue to run after cache failures, while Foxton tracks application power consumption and boosts processor performance where possible.

Montecito contains 1.7 billion transistors and 24 megabytes of cache, which dwarfs even the Itanium 2 with its 410 million transistors and 6BM cache.

The chip is a drop-in replacement for existing Itanium 2s that provides an overall performance increase of 1.5 to two times without any changes in software, Talwalkar claimed. Itanium 2 development after Montecito will include dual-processor (DP) platform chip Millington and a low-voltage version, and a Montecito successor called Montvale and its own low-voltage variant. In 2007 or thereabouts, the first Common Platform Architecture Itanium 2, code-named Tukwila, will be released.

Multi- and dual-processor Xeons are also on the map, with the next-generation MP variant, code-named Cranford, due in 2005. This chip and Potomac, a larger-cached variant, will work with a chipset dubbed Twin Castle that finally brings DDR2, PCI Express, power management and other recent developments to this market segment. Tulsa, a dual-core MP Xeon, is also expected in this round of updates.

Finally, the Common Platform Architecture Xeon -- Whitefield -- is due in what Talwalkar said was 'the future', but is expected at roughly the same time as Tukwila. Little is known about this architecture, except that it will be the product of Intel's Indian engineering division and is widely expected to include multiple cores based on mobile product techniques. Motherboards will be able to use Itanium or Xeon variants interchangeably, potentially even simultaneously.

Xeon's dual-processor future is less clearly delineated, with no code names or details given for the multi-core 'next generation DP'. Intel is still going through a process of instilling conscientious conservatism in product predictions and roadmap details, following a series of delays that led to a companywide order from chief executive Craig Barrett to his staff to pull their socks up.

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