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Intel details dual-core Itanium

Foxton power conservation tech too

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Intel boffins will this week discuss the creation of the 90nm dual-core Itanium 2 processor and detail 'Foxton', the chip maker's energy conservation system for server processors.

The dualie Itanium, codenamed 'Montecito', has been on Intel's roadmap for some time, but the company will use the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), being held in San Francisco this week, to detail its development.

Montecito contains 1.72bn transistors, many of which are dedicated to the CPU's 24MB L3 cache. That, plus the extra core and other refinements, yield an almost threefold increase in performance over the first Itanium 2s running at the same 1.6GHz clock frequency, Intel claimed.

At the same time, the chip consumes 23 per cent less power than the single core version: 100W to 130W, the chip maker said.

Enter Foxton, essentially a tweaked version of SpeedStep, scaling back core voltage and clock frequency according to processor load. Unlike SpeedStep, Foxton is able to raise them too, the better to deliver higher performance when it's needed. Foxton can provide an above-the-line boost of ten per cent, Intel said. Foxton was first mentioned last September.

Core voltage can be set to one of 32 levels, each yielding a 1.25mW difference in power consumption. Clock frequency to one of 64 speeds. An external voltage regulator manages the core voltage, knocking back or lifting the voltage according to instructions sent by the CPU. The clock is modified by an internal voltage-controlled oscillator and divider network.

Foxton will debut in Montecito, itself due to ship in limited numbers in Q4, but in volume in 2006. Intel also plans to add Foxton to its Xeon line. ®

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