Intel updates Itanium line with 'Kittson'

Chip manufacturer outlines key features in the upcoming Itanium successors, and reveals, albeit without details, what's after "Poulson".

Intel has updated its Itanium roadmap to include a new chip dubbed "Kittson".

In an interview with ZDNet Asia, William Wu, regional marketing manager for server platforms at Intel Asia-Pacific, said the Kittson will follow the release of Poulson.

"We don't have anything more to disclose at this moment. It's still far out, but [Kittson] demonstrates our commitment to Itanium despite the naysayers out there who think otherwise," Wu added.

However, he offered more details on Poulson, the Itanium processor after Tukwila.

Wu said Poulson will be based on a new microarchitecture that provides higher levels of parallelism.

"There will be four or more cores, multithreading enhancements, and we'll also introduce more instructions to take advantage of parallelism, especially in virtualization," Wu said.

Another key difference between the two generations of technologies is that Poulson will be a 32-nanometer chip, unlike Tukwila which is based on the 65-nanometer process.

Explaining why Intel chose to go straight to the 32-nanometer process, Wu said: "There is no reason why we should do the 45-nanometer process--we should do the latest. That also shows our commitment to use the latest process technology for Itanium. Hopefully, we can be very competitive with that."

Poulson will also include more on-die cache and offer new mainframe-level reliability, availability and serviceability (RAS). These features will also be compatible with the Tukwila platform which is slated for a release in late 2008.

"The key thing with Itanium is to maintain a stable platform so that companies can have an upgrade path," he added.

The Intel executive also said Tukwila will include four cores, large on-die caches, Hyper-Threading technology and an integrated memory controller.

Wu said a key feature of Tukwila is double-device data correction, which helps to fix memory errors.

"Memory is one of the most common components which fail in large systems, apart from hard disk and power supply failures," Wu said. "We've put in very sophisticated technology to prevent data corruption if the [memory] bits fail."

With Tukwila, Intel will also introduce a common chipset that can be used in both Itanium- and Xeon-based systems. "That will help OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) reduce their development cost and gain economies of scale," Wu noted.

In the Tukwila platform, Intel will also address processing delays in today's systems. A new high-speed interconnect that moves data in multicore Itanium systems will be supported on Tukwila and beyond, Wu said.

He said that the current way of moving data across multiple processors in a system using traditional I/O technologies is subject to delays, and needs improvement. "It can work, but it doesn't give you the best performance," he noted.

Last month, IBM and its technology partners such as Chartered Semiconductor and Samsung signed development and manufacturing agreements involving the 32-nanomoter process. With the agreements, Big Blue said, alliance partners will be able to produce high-performance and energy-efficient chips at 32 nanometers.

Wu said Montvale, Montecito's successor, is on track to launch in the second half of 2007.

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