Intel Introduces Itanium 2 ‘Montecito’ Chips

Intel officially introduced its Itanium 2 Processor 9000 “Montecito” family of high performance computing (HPC) server processors at an event in Santa Clara, Calif., this week, claiming greater cost and energy efficiency compared to earlier chips.

Intel said the new Itanium 2 chips, to be built into systems from major server vendors for release late next month, would deliver more freedom for running multiple and different operating systems simultaneously and economically through server virtualization.

“Intel remains focused on removing the proprietary shackles that remain in the high end of the server market segment, and with new dual-core Itanium 2 processors, we are delivering unprecedented IT freedom with a product that excels in performance, reliability and improved energy efficiency,” said Intel Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Digital Enterprise Group Pat Gelsinger.

Performance Advantage

While actual market uptake of the new HPC processors remains to be seen, Intel’s high-end customers are likely to get a significant improvement with the new Itanium 2 chips, Mercury Research President Dean McCarron told TechNewsWorld.

He said the biggest improvements and enhancements with Itanium 2, long-anticipated from the chip giant, are the performance and power gains that come with a dual-core processor.

“The standouts, I really do think, simply come down to performance and power,” McCarron said.

Freedom, Flexibility

Intel stressed the freedom and flexibility of the Itanium 2 platform, which the company claimed offers broad application support and the unique ability to provide mission critical support for a variety of operating systems, including Windows, Linux and Unix.

“The broad system and software support for Itanium 2 processors enables CIOs to move away from aging and expensive legacy systems and instead direct those funds toward standards-based computing and business innovation,” Gelsinger said.

Itanium 2 chips range in clock speed from 1.4 GHz to 1.6 GHz and in price from US$696 to $3,692 (in quantities of 1,000).

While the enterprise server market is a key battlefront for Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), which has won market share with its Opteron, the new Itanium 2s will be competing mainly with Sparc and Power processors from Sun Microsystems and IBM, according to McCarron.

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