Intel to talk up Itanium present, future at IDF

Deerfield, Tanglewood on tap

The Fall Intel Developer Forum is approaching, and a couple of speculative Itanium tidbits have fluttered into our inbox just in the nick of time.

With the Madison launch already passed, Intel will be hard pressed to find some Itanic news to keep IDF attendees happy. The vendor, however, does have to put on a good show and instill confidence that this decade old 64bit experiment is still alive and kicking. Always marching forward. That's the Intel way.

Intel has hinted that Deerfield - the low voltage Itanium 2 - is set for release in the third quarter. The chip is to run at 1GHz with a 1.5MB L3 cache and a low 62 watt power envelope. Unlike its scorching compatriot Madison, Deerfield's power-friendly features make it well suited for thin one- and two-processor servers. Oddly enough, OEMs have tended to pick Madison for their future blade designs.

With the third quarter coming to a close, Intel will likely use IDF to say that Deerfield has started shipping or will do so by the end of September. The company's server chief Mike Fister will gloat about more OEMs picking up the chip and the wide range of systems that Itanic can power.

Intel has been forced to ignore the shocking Q1 Itanium shipment numbers from IDC that showed chip sales declining instead of ramping as planned. By the time IDF kicks off, IDC should have released a new set of figures for Q2 that include Madison sales. With any luck, the numbers will be good enough for Fister to hold up on stage.

When not using his usual backwoods tone to describe the current state of the Itanic, Fister will likely turn to the chip's future - Tanglewood.

After having a nice run of Tanglewood exclusives, we suspect Intel will put an end to The Register-only affair and make the processor public. As reported before, Tanglewood is set for release in 2007 as a true multicore processor. Intel has said Tanglewood will run 10 times faster than McKinley.

It's doubtful that Fister will do more than acknowledge Tanglewood's existence. Fister will, of course, throw in a couple of his signature "nices," "groovies," and "neats" to describe the chip, but that is all. Don't expect details. You are probably better served by looking at Mr. Tanglewood's past than listening to Fister's marketing drivel.

It is, however, important in and of itself for Intel to admit to Tanglewood. The company is looking woefully behind in the multicore processor game. Yes, Itanium screams on benchmarks, but it appears that a honking general purpose server processor is not the way to go. Multicore chips surrounded by lots of memory and able to handle many software threads may put a dent in Intel's performance lead. Intel will not release the dual-core Montecito chip until 2005, and we hear it's not what you would call an elegant design. Tanglewood, however, is. ®