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Intel's 'Tukwila' Itaniums - hot n' pricey

How much for an upgrade?

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Analysis As El Reg duly reported earlier today, Intel took the wraps off its long awaited and many times tweaked "Tukwila" quad-core Itanium 9300 processors for midrange and high-end servers. But let's take a look at the feeds and speeds of the chip itself and how the lineup compared to the prior Itanium 9100 series.

There are five variants of the Itanium 9300 series, compared to seven in the prior 9100 series. The chips as delivered were basically the same as what people were whispering about for the past year.

What we knew for sure about Tukwila was that it would have four cores, two threads per core with HyperThreading, 6 MB of L3 cache per core (for a total of 24 MB), integrated DDR3 main memory controllers - all implemented in a fairly ancient 65 nanometer process with some 2 billion transistors. Tukwila's clock speeds were expected to be in the range of 1.2 GHz to 2 GHz, with top-end parts burning at 170 watts, and performance was hinted to be about twice that of the dual-core Itanium 9100s.

Here are their basic feeds and speeds of the Itanium 9300s announced today, including the single unit price when OEMs buy them at list price in 1,000-unit quantities:

Intel Itanium 9300

The Intel Itanium 9300 family of server processors

As you might expect, Intel is trying to hold its price points even as it uses Moore's Law to double up the cores and add threads to the Itanium processor. In fact, each new Itanium 9300 processor costs a little bit more than the Itanium 9100 processor it replaces in the lineup. The modest price increase is generous compared to the prior product line, and with the chips being binary compatible with other Itaniums, moving operating systems and applications to the new chips is not an issue.

(Wringing the full amount of performance out of any new chip does often require recompilation and other tweaking, however, and the Itanium 9300, with its radically different chipset and QuickPath Interconnect, will be no different in this regard).

The Tukwilas will give customers running HP-UX, Windows, Linux, OpenVMS, and NonStop operating systems more threads, more cache, and slightly higher clock speeds in a few cases. But the 800 per cent increase in interconnect bandwidth, 500 per cent more memory bandwidth, and 700 per cent increase in main memory capacity using 16 GB DDR3 DIMMs will presumably make customers not mind a slight price rise on raw chips to get around twice the throughput.

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