RealTime IT News

Intel Deals Dual for Duel

Intel is upping the ante in the $5.3 billion high-end semiconductors marketplace with its latest dual processor.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant said Monday that it is shipping its Itanium 2 processor (code-named Madison) running at 1.6 GHz with 3MB cache for dual processor systems and workstations. The processor was first mentioned back in April when Intel announced its Itanium 2 processor at 1.4 GHz. The new chip processor includes improved floating-point operations per-second based on Linpack measurements.

The chipmaking giant said the latest Madison is one of the last Itanium chips to be processed at the 1.3-micron level. Starting in 2005, all future Itaniums will be dual- or multi-core architectures and manufactured using the 90-nanometer process under the code-name Montecito. Intel is expecting to release a low-voltage version of the chip running at 1.2 GHz. The dual processor (code-named Fanwood) will also support 3MB of cache.

"Fujitsu Siemens is shipping systems based on the 1.6 GHz and we expect others such as HCL, Bull, Kraftway, Lenovo, Maxdata to be shipping in the near future," Intel spokeswoman Erica Fields told internetnews.com.

The new chip is also expected to compete with recently released RISC-based architectures such as IBM's POWER series and Sun Microsystems' UltraSPARC. Intel has focused on capturing the higher -- end business for servers because Itanium chips sell for as much as 10 times the price of the Pentium 4 used in PCs. But according to the latest stats from Gartner, Intel's Itanium chip makes up less than 5 percent of the high-end market. That crown goes to Sun, witch has about 56 percent market share followed by IBM with 24 percent.

Both Sun and IBM have recently released updated versions of their high-end processors. Sun recently released its UltraSPARC IV chip and is on tap to issue a multi-threaded UltraSPARC+ sometime in the next 12 to 18 months, according to Sun vice president of marketing Steve Campbell. Sun has so much trust in its UltraSPARC IV, that it has shelved plans to further its development of its UltraSPARC V (code-named Millennium) and Gemini processors.

Meantime, IBM is pushing its POWER 5 processor, although commercial products based on the next-generation architecture aren't expected until the second half of 2004, company officials said. IBM is currently showing partners and customers how it can fit nicely into its e-business on-demand plans.

But while the competition is basking in their sales status, Itanium systems remain the fastest and most efficient, according to the latest TPC-C stats. An HP Integrity (Itanium) box running Red Hat, Oracle Database, and BEA Tuxedo in a cluster is currently the top spot on the speed/price performance list.

Intel has said it understands that sales will eventually pick up as more customers on board. Back in November 2003, COO Paul Otellini said the company expects to ship 300,000 Itanium units by the end of 2005.

In related news, Intel Monday said its Capital strategic investment group has invested in application server software provider JBoss as part of a recent $10 million venture financing from Matrix Partners and Accel Partners. Atlanta-based JBoss bases its platform on open source technologies, such as Tomcat, Hibernate and JGroups.

The agreement with Intel means JBoss can complete J2EE certification on the Itanium and Xeon processors.