Intel previews Itanium, IA-64

Intel previews Itanium, IA-64

Intel has previewed its Itanium processor and IA-64 architecture at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco last week.

Gadi Singer, vice president and general manger of Intel's IA-64 processor division, said the combination of hardware and software features of the Itanium processor, including the 800MHz production frequency, makes the Itanium processor ideal for raw scientific performance as well as e-business applications.

In short, Singer said, the Itanium is the `most significant processor development since the 486'.

Touting multiprocessor scalability anywhere from 2-way to 512-way, Singer said the IA-64 Itanium processor has a migration pack allowing for backward compatibility with Intel's 32-bit architecture.

Improved software/hardware synergy gives the Itanium processor greater parallel execution through `instruction loop hints' that keep the chip's rapid clock cycle `fed', according to Singer.

`Memory hints' that identify data or calculations being cycled repeatedly through the processor also increase performance by routing the information in the simplest, fastest manner, he said at last week's preview.

Intel estimates the Itanium processor can perform just over 1000 decryptions per second on prototype engineering systems, speeding encrypted business transactions while ensuring security.

While the base chip set will vary depending on the OEM, Intel's 460 GX chip set - designed for the Itanium - will support SDRAM (synchronous DRAM) and possibly Rambus, according to Intel officials.

The IA-64 operating environment has already been booted successfully on 64-bit Windows, Unix/Linux, and Novell, according to Singer.

It will be ready for server and workstation solutions by the second half of 2000, according to Singer.

With OEM commitments already shored up from Compaq, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Data General, Intel expects the IA-64 architecture to be `the solution for the next 25 years', Singer said.

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