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7/18/2006
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Intel Launches Next Itanium With New Price-Performance Pitch

The new Itanium 2s are expected to perform better and be priced at about two-thirds the cost of the older Itanium architecture.

Intel on Tuesday rolled out the latest version of its Itanium processor for high-end computing and promised a big improvement in price-performance.

The Itanium 2 9000 series, formerly code-named Montecito, is the architecture's first dual-core model and will run at 1.4GHz to 1.6GHz with 6 Mbytes to 24Mbytes of onboard L3 cache, Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president of Intel's digital enterprise group, said at a launch event in San Francisco. The new chips also include virtualization technology for the first time, as well as hyperthreading and cache safe technology that identifies and corrects cache errors, he said.

The Itanium 2 9000 processors perform twice as fast as previous models and feature a 20 percent reduction in power, Gelsinger said.

Intel has promised that the new Itanium 2s will perform better and be priced at about two-thirds of the cost of the older Itanium architecture, according to one systems integrator.

As in other processor rollouts this year, Intel has priced the products competitively to move the industry to dual-core technology, Gelsinger said, adding that existing models will be priced at parity with older models now on the market. The processors are priced in low quantities at $696 on the low-end (for a single-core part) to $3,692 on the high end.

Intel is committed to continuing the line, Gelsinger noted. "We have three more generations of Itaniums under development today," he said.

Though the Itanium 2 9000 series suffered delays and the Itanium processors in general haven't sold as well as some in the industry had hoped, some solution providers said they have seen increased uptake of Itanium-based servers.

Larry Holzenthaler, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Total Tec Systems, an Edison, N.J.-based solution provider and partner of Hewlett-Packard, which holds the lion's share of the U.S. Itanium market, said he expects more growth in Itanium-based Integrity servers when the new processors start shipping in August.

Integrity sales are about 15 percent of Total Tec's business, compared with about 30 percent in HP servers and blades overall. But Holzenthaler said he expects that to move to parity this year as OpenVMS gets more popular on Integrity.

Open VMS 8.2 was launched in January for the Itanium architecture. The platform is expected to help move customers from HP's older Alpha systems and aging VAX hardware to more modern Itanium-based systems.

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