More than just another Itanium Chip

Intel has launched the latest member of the Itanium family, the Itanium Processor 9500. It was first previewed last year at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference as an 8 core, 3.1 Billion-transistor device run on the 32nm process, and compatible with the previous generation Itanium 9300 (Tukwila) processor. Now with the formal launch and official performance numbers, it’s clear that the combination of new core architecture and more cores delivers up to 2.4X the previous generation with 33% faster I/O speed.


There are additional neat features like 80% less idle power, additional parallelism, new RAS features like Intel Instruction Replay Technology, and Complete Machine Check Architecture with firmware first error handling.   Intel also released more information regarding the next generation Itanium chip that will follow the Itanium 9500. It’s here that you find one of the most interesting nuggets of new information. Intel will continue to move forward with the common platform strategy, launched with the Itanium 9300, where Chipsets, Interconnects and Memory are shared with the Xeon platform.  The Modular Development Model will take a major leap forward from shared silicon design elements, to full socket compatibility with the next generation Kittson Itanium chip having socket interchangeability, with the future  “Haswell” Xeon chip.


Aside from allowing OEMs to design a single motherboard for both Itanium and Xeon, it allows for a cost effective, sustainable path to bring future Itanium processors to market, where the major design investment is the unique instruction set logic of the core. Itanium can benefit from Xeon economics by sharing not only memory, I/O and RAS, but now packaging and socket.

The other business news is to remind readers that Inspur and Huawei continue to be Itanium OEMS, developing a range of systems including large 32 socket NUMA designs, and there is serious potential in the PRC market.  Lastly, with the election behind us, for entertainment you can still look forward to Round 2 in the HP-Oracle Itanium lawsuit. HP won round 1 having convinced the judge that there was indeed an agreement for Oracle to provide its products on Itanium. As a result it would appear that Oracle would continue porting to Itanium. It will be interesting to see the fight for damages in round two, scheduled to begin in February, in front of a jury here in Santa Clara County. – Too bad I can’t volunteer… 😉