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Itanium momentum picks up

Jul 08, 20033 mins

* Intel rolls out another generation of Itanium 2 processors

Intel last week rolled out the third installment of its 64-bit Itanium processor designed for transaction-heavy applications such as ERP, CRM and databases.

Called Madison, the Itanium 2 processor has three versions and support from a bunch of server vendors such as Dell, IBM, HP, SGI and Linux Networx, as well as storage vendors such as Emulex.

The Madison processor will be available in a 1.5-GHz processor with 6M bytes of cache, a 1.4-GHz processor with 4M bytes of cache, and a 1.3-GHz chip with 3M bytes of cache. Earlier Itanium processors operated at speeds of 1 GHz and had 3M bytes of cache.

Intel expects to double the number of Itanium 2 servers and workstations offered by vendors this year. The company says there are more than 40 two- and four-processor systems and more than 10 systems with eight or more processors. The company claims that Unisys will introduce a 32-processor Itanium/Xeon-based system this year, that NEC will also roll out a 32-processor system and that HP will announce a 64-processor system. The largest system cited by Intel will come from SGI; it will have more than 128 processors.

Later this year Intel will introduce another Itanium 2 processor, codenamed Deerfield, which will have lower voltage requirements, for systems aiming for low power consumption. The company will also bring out its IA-32 Execution Layer, which lets 32-bit applications run on the 64-bit Itanium without as much of the performance drain they presently have.

The new Itanium 2 is 30% to 50% faster than previous Itanium 2 processors.

Dell introduced the dual-processor PowerEdge 3250 with the new Itanium 2, which the company expects will be used in supercomputer clusters. The company will make the server available in eight-node to 128-node configurations running Red Hat Linux. The 3250 is 2U high and starts at $6,000. An eight-node clustered configuration costs $88,600.

SGI introduced the Altix 3000 Itanium 2-based server. The Altix uses SGI’s NUMAflex architecture, a shared memory architecture that can be clustered using Linux. Each cluster node runs a single system image and supports as many as 64 Itanium 2 processors and 512G bytes of memory. An entry-level four-processor server starts at $70,176; a 64-processor Altix starts at $1.13 million.

Emulex has announced that its Fibre Channel host bus adapters will work with the Itanium 2. Those adapters – the LightPulse LP9802, LP982 and dual-channel LP9802DC – work in dual-processor configurations.

Linux Networx announced it has benchmarked the new Itanium 2 processor for use in Linux clusters.

Further, Intel also released new Xeon MP processors, which Dell and HP plan to incorporate into their servers. Dell introduced the PowerEdge 6650 and 6600 servers, which run at 2.8 GHz and have 2M bytes of cache. The 6650 starts at $6,000; the 6600 starts at $5,500. HP plans to add the new Intel Xeon MP to its ProLiant DL560, ML570, DL740 and DL760 servers, as well as its BL40p blade server. The HP servers are expected by the middle of this month.