Intel will start shipping a quad-core version of its Itanium processor to system vendors in about six months, with the first servers based on the chip due in early 2009, Intel said Monday. Intel said the new chip, code-named Tukwila, will roughly double the performance of the current, dual-core version of Itanium. Aside from the additional cores, Tukwila includes 30MB of on-chip cache memory — about 15 percent more than its predecessor — and Intel’s QuickPath Interconnect technology, which should speed data transfer between components.
Intel won’t say yet what clock-speeds the chip will be offered at, except that it will launch at up to 2GHz. It will be manufactured using a 65-nanometer process, a step up from the current Itanium. Itanium is designed for high-end servers running large databases, data warehouses, and transaction-heavy business applications. Intel positions it as a substitute for RISC-type processors like IBM’s Power and Sun’s Sparc, and as a lower-cost alternative to mainframes. Most Itanium servers are sold by Hewlett-Packard, although they are also offered by Fujitsu, NEC, and others.