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Intel's 'Montvale' half the chip it used to be

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The speeds and feeds for Intel's upcoming "Montvale" version of Itanium have made their way to the web, revealing a chip far less spectacular than once hoped.

According to DailyTech, Intel will ship 1.66GHz, 1.60GHz and 1.42Hz versions of Montvale under the Itanium 2 9100-series brand. The dual-core processor, due out near year end, replaces today's Montectio flavors of Itanic. With Montvale, customers will see front side bus speeds increase to 667MHz from 533MHz and some new power management tools that keep chips in lower power mode when they're idle - go figure.

You'll have to drop some serious coin for the highest-end Montvale, according to the report. Intel's got a 1.66GHz chip with the speedy 667MHz FSB and 24MB of Level3 cache coming in at $3,692. The lowest end chip, which runs at 1.42GHz with the 533MHz FSB and 12MB of Level3 cache, will cost $910. There's quite a mix of chip speeds, FSB speeds and cache in between, as Intel plans to sell six Montvale models. (The prices match today's Itanium 2 chips.)

Many, many moons ago, Intel hoped to ratchet Montvale up near 3GHz, giving the chip a fighting chance at competing with IBM's Power6 on raw performance. The Itanic program, however, has been hampered by delays and redesigns, leaving customers with a fresh version of Itanium that runs just a hair faster than today's 1.60GHz Montecito.

High-end server customers rarely buy kit based solely on processor performance. If they did, Sun would have evaporated. That said, consistency and clout are appreciated.

Intel used to be able to match IBM on raw performance with Itanium but has clearly fallen behind in this race.

It won't be shipping a really fresh take on Itanic until the end of 2008 when the four-core Tukwila chip arrives. The processor will include an integrated memory controller and Intel's Hypertransport copy known as QuickPath - aka CSI. ®

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