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Intel puts Itanium saviour on ice

Takes the radical out of Tukwila

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Intel has plumped, constrained and then killed a future version of Itanium once meant to save the entire franchise, The Register has learned.

The once elegant Tukwila processor with all of its eight glorious cores will now have just two or four cores, according to a source familiar with the processor's design. Intel has decided to equip Tukwila with a couple of fatter, more powerful processor cores instead of combining numerous lowered-powered parts. What was once Tanglewood - later renamed Tukwila - is dead.

El Reg was the first to discover Tukwila way back in March of 2003. The chip grew out of work done by ex-Alpha processor engineers from DEC and Compaq. It was meant to help Intel catch up with rivals IBM and Sun Microsystems by providing a multicore chip that could crank through software at a quick clip but not consume too much power.

Intel, however, has proven averse to taking risks with its Itanium line - or has simply been unable to deal with the beast. Itanium is the only high-end server chip that has yet to reach the dual-core stage. It will do that later this year when Montecito finally arrives. In the meantime, IBM and Sun are looking to pack four or more cores on their upcoming chips and then keep adding cores over time.

Should Intel come out with just a dual-core Tukwila part in 2007 - when the product is due - it will make Itanic an even bigger joke. Here's hoping management cuts the engineers a break and lets them show off a four core design. Without such a design, Intel will appear woefully behind its competitors, although it must be getting used to that position where Itanium is concerned.

The dual-processor and low voltage version of Tukwila - called Dimona - is still on tap for 2007 as well. It will receive the same tweaks as its higher-end papa. ®

Intel's official line is nothing has changed."There have been no changes to our roadmap," an Intel spokeswoman said. "We do not comment on rumours and speculation."

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