Itanium 2 stuffed with cache

Intel has delivered updated Itanium 2 processors with larger memory caches aimed, in part, at high-volume data warehouse...

Intel has delivered updated Itanium 2 processors with larger memory caches aimed, in part, at high-volume data warehouse transaction markets that have long been the domain of Risc systems.

Intel vice-president Abhi Talwalkar said the high-end 1.6GHz version of the processor also has a 9Mbyte cache, which is 50% bigger than the processor shipping today. There are also 6Mbyte and 4Mbyte cache versions of the chip. 

"Itanium is very much targeted at Risc replacement," Talwalkar said. 

"We were able to save an awful lot of money by taking a little bit of risk upfront and porting our application to the Compaq Windows platform instead of incurring the investment of a big-iron box," said Gerald Verdone, Itanium 2 adopter and head of infrastructure at shares trader G-Trade Services.

Verdone said the decision to use Windows and Intel systems had worked out because as G-Trade had grown, it had continued to add server capacity without problem. Processor speed is particularly important in a trading environment because trading speed affects the bottom line. 

Hardware suppliers continue to leapfrog each other in technology advances and speed, and while Verdone said that he looked at rival platforms and operating system alternatives, he doubted whether any replacement "would have enough incremental bang for the buck to justify a platform change". 

But Meta Group analyst Brian Richardson said Intel's update of its Itanium 2 line wouldn't change its market position. "Itanium has not been able to garner broad market acceptance. It's becoming a very HP-centric platform." 

Richardson said he saw users - other than those who needed high-performance computing with four processors or more - staying with the Intel x86 and AMD Opteron chips for 64-bit applications. In the high-end market, IBM, for instance, is "clearly focused on its Power processor platforms". 

Intel plans to release a dual-core chip, known as the Montecito, late next year. 

Patrick Thibodeau writes for Computerworld

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