Intel Fawns Over Itanium ‘Deerfield’

Intel filled in some of the blanks on its Itanium roadmap Monday. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaking giant debuted two new processors designed for dual processor systems.

As previously reported, the chips compliment large scale Itanium 2-based systems with up to 128 or more processors per system and are specially designed for high-performance computing (HPC) and front end enterprise applications.

The two new processors are the Intel Itanium 2 processor at 1.4GHz, with a 1.5 MB level three cache (part of the Madison core) and the low voltage Intel Itanium 2 processor, at 1 GHz with a 1.5 MB L3 cache (code-named Deerfield). The chips come with list prices of $1,172 and $744 in 1,000-unit quantities, respectively.

“Think of these as a chip for IT managers who need lower cost, lower power systems that specifically do things like network edge or security,” Intel vice president Mike Graff told “Certainly we think both parts will be used in the enterprise network edge in large-scale databases.”

The company says the 1.4GHz Madison’s price point is perfect for sub-$7,000 systems but is better than using its cluster-popular Xeon because it keeps Itanium-based systems heterogeneous. Graff cites British Petroleum as a good example, considering the energy giant has a large cache of Itanium-based 4-way systems.

“They’ve got some sophisticated systems where they have this seismic modeling looking for world oil deposits. All of that stuff is custom home grown,” he said.

Graff also said servers with Deerfield chips make a compelling alternative to entry-level RISC platforms considering Intel’s version runs a maximum power consumption of 62 watts — less than half the power of existing Itanium 2 processors.

Both chips will be aided by new IA-32 EL (Execution Layer), which allows early adaptors to get their Itanium 2-based systems up and running. Intel said it will introduce the new on-die hardware as part of Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, which is due in the second half of this year. The idea is to get 32-bit app performance similar to Xeon processor MP 1.5GHz and improve on the performance with future processors.

Intel said it has worked with hundreds of vendors to make sure the new chips will run their applications and tools. The company said its Itanium processor family has been tweaked for database systems from IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, major enterprise and front-end server applications from BEA, BMC, EMC/Legato Systems, RSA Security, SAP, SAS, and Symantec, and technical computing applications from ABAQUS, Ansys, Accelrys, EDS, Fluent, LSTC, Mental Images, Mentor Graphics, MSC and PTC. Operating system support for the Intel Itanium 2 processor family includes Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003, Linux from Red Hat, SuSE, TurboLinux, and UnitedLinux and HP’s HP-UX.

The chips are expected to find their way into some 40 different two and four-way boxes made by top-tier vendors including IBM , Hewlett-Packard and Dell .

For example Dell said Monday it will offer Intel’s latest 1GHz and 1.4GHz Itanium 2 processors in its dual-processor PowerEdge 3250 server, which it sells for HPC clusters. The Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker said the new configurations will be available worldwide later this quarter with prices starting at $4,999 for a PowerEdge 3250 with a single, low-voltage 1GHz processor and 1GB of memory, and $8,499 for dual 1.4GHz processors and 2GB of memory.

Both the 1.4GHz Madison and the 1GHz Deerfield are scheduled for upgrades in 2004 with faster processor speeds and better level-three cache.

Intel plans to highlight the two chips during their Fall Intel Developer’s Forum in San Jose next week.

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