Intel expanded the breadth of its Itanium line on Sept. 8th, releasing two new processors designed to operate in rack and blade servers. Formerly code-named Deerfield -- and now, "Low Voltage Itanium 2" -- the chip clocks in at 1GHz and is equipped with a 1.5MB cache, significantly less than the 3-6MB of earlier Itaniums. The other new Itanium 2 runs at 1.4GHz with the same cache size and is intended for computing clusters. Intel is hoping that the new lower-priced chips will give the Itanium line a much-needed boost by spreading to more segments of the server market.
At the release, the company published a white paper and reference guide. The first, a non-technical paper, proudly ties together the Itanium 2 family with emphasis on the latest of the three versions, while providing a roadmap for each. The reference guide gives a brief rundown of the new processor, pointing out the changes, benefits, and target market segments.
Background on Itanium 2 "Deerfield" release
Intel's Itanium family of 64-bit processors is based on a unique architecture termed EPIC (Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing). In addition to the increased memory-address space of all 64-bit processors, this design benefits high-end applications through parallel execution of instructions, according to the company. The first generation of Itanium CPUs debuted in May 2001 and ended up being a major disappointment for Intel.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again: Intel took this advice to heart when it released the successor (code name: McKinley) to the first Itanium processor. Delivered in the summer of 2002, the chip's performance was impressive, yet a difficult market hindered any hope for volume shipments. An article published at the time does a great job providing the background perspective to the "Itanium saga."
Intel revised its schedule for processor releases early in 2003, prompting competitors to step up their plans. An article discusses all forthcoming chips--Madison, Deerfield, Madison II and Montecito-that will be marketed under the Itanium 2 family name.
One of the first articles with pricing details about Deerfield appeared in July. Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff best summed up general sentiment toward the chip: "Performance is not a reason not to adopt (Itanium) any longer, and price is not a reason not to adopt any longer."