Intel has released a new Itanium RISC-based server processor, ending a two-year delay. Code-named Tukwila, the 9300 series is the first quad-core Itanium and delivers a major performance boost over the previous generation, which is a dual-core chip. The new processor offers eight threads per core.
Intel had planned to ship Tukwila in 2008. In pushing back the release date further last year, Intel told InformationWeek that it needed to add "some engineering enhancements."
In building Tukwila, Intel shrunk the size of its transistors to 65 nanometers from the previous generation's 90 nm. As a result, Intel increased the number of transistors to 2 billion, giving the product a significant performance boost. Compared to the previous model, Tukwila offers up to 800% the interconnect bandwidth, up to 500% the memory bandwidth, and up to 700% the memory capacity when using DDR3 memory components.
The motherboard socket supporting Tukwila will be used in future Itanium chips, code-named Poulson and Kittson, Intel has said. Using the same socket means customers can upgrade without changing hardware, which is pivotal since the high-end systems that use Itanium are expensive.
Poulson, a 32-nm processor, will ship first and have more than four cores per processor and more threads than Tukwila. No details have been released for Kittson, and Intel has not said when it would ship the future chips.
Intel released Tukwila Monday, the same day IBM rolled out its competing Power7 processor in a new family of IBM servers. The Power7 processor has an 8-core architecture that offers four threads per core. That's four times the maximum number of cores found in Power6 systems and eight times the number of threads.
Hewlett-Packard accounts for the majority of Itanium system deployments. HP uses the chips to power its HP-UX operating system within Integrity and Integrity NonStop servers. Other vendors that sell Itanium systems include Fujitsu, Hitachi, and NEC, all second-tier server vendors in the United States.
Tukwila pricing ranges from $946 to $3,838 in quantities of 1,000. Tukwila servers are expected to hit the market within 90 days, according to Intel.