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Intel IA-64 architecture to last 25 years

Intel, very quietly, posted an Adobe PDF all about the Itanium and its IA-64 roadmap on its FTP site just a week ago. And one of the slides claims that IA-64 architecture will survive for an amazing 25 years. Lest we forget, Intel has said in the past there will be Itanium machines available from June onwards this year, which means that behind the scenes everything must be happening at 64-bit speed, albeit running at 800MHz. As release is just a short while away, it's worth looking in some detail at this latest Intel document. At the same time, we've included a few shots of what real life machines look like, captured from the Intel Developer Forum we attended in February. These, as you'll see, are not luggables. A close look at the machines we snapped, from HP, Dell and IBM-Sequent, reveals that you need some hefty fans to keep the microprocessors and everything else in these cases cool. The 34 page Intel document starts with an overview of the firm's experience with enterprise platforms, and the chipsets to support them. But it also reveals details about McKinley, which will use the 870 chipset, support up to eight processors, have hot plug CPU nodes, a higher bus bandwidth, use Infiniband as well as PC-XI, give legacy IO support and support a number of other models including ACPI, SMBus, IPMI, memory chipkill, and fail over through multi pathing. Intel maintains that e-business will require a high degree of security for online transaction processing (OLTP), as well as backward, and binary, compatibility with IA-32 applications. The firm makes the claim that IA-64 will be the dominant platform and has the architectural scalability to carry on for a staggering 25 years. This makes its battle over NGIO, which it ultimately settled and has taken shape in the course of Infiniband, understandable, at least from Intel's point of view. When Intel was discussion NGIO at one of its Developer Forums last year, it made the claim that IO would be good for 25 years. Intel says that by the end of March, Itanium processor systems were delivered in the thousands, with six major operating systems running on the hardware, all the compilers optimised, and the "key" network, video and other drivers now running on the platform. The document says that IDF saw full development support from both firmware to applications, suggesting Intel is well on target to deliver working systems. As early as June? Maybe. Here it's worth looking at Intel's Lion Itanium project, which we leaked last week. A reprise here. Production frequency will be at 800MHz, with 4Mb of on cartridge L3 cache, using 25 million transistors in the CPU and an amazing 295 million transistors in the L3 cache. The system bus will run at 2.1Gb/S, using something called a multidrop system bus. This uses something Intel calls the Enhanced Defer Mechanism, allowing high scalability through better bus efficiency, it claims. Multiprocessing functionality, Intel says, is on track and no architectural or ISA changes will be required. Some of the features of Itanium include HP's EPIC predication and speculation, double bit ECC with immediate correction of single bit errors, enhanced machine check architecture, Intel server management support, fused multiply-add instructions and a Register (no relation) stack and save engine. The Itanium, because of better bandwidth, is suitable for scientific applications, and will deliver over 2 Gflops on Linpack 1000. It will have 82 bit floating point, 128 integer and 128 floating point registers, rotating registers for loop pipelining, and, of course, a large memory model support. Graphs show a projection of Itanium running at 800MHz significantly outperforming an UltraSparc III at 750MHz in transaction processing, and floating point. We'd publish these, but there's a great big copyright sign against them. So we won't. Interesting here to note that despite its spat with Intel, Sun has been doing pretty well shipping big systems over the last six months. The first Itanium systems will use Intel's 460GX PCi-set but there will also be OEM chipset designs. This chipset supports one to four CPUs, has dual memory ports runing at 4.2Gb/s and supports up to 64Gb of synchronous memory. Intel says that there will be over 30 OEM system products, and over five eight processor and greater system designs. The IA-64 operating system chart is significant because there is no sign of Sun Slowaris on this slide, despite the fact an earlier slide said there were six OSes available. The ones Intel chooses to show are Win64, IA-64 Linux Trillian, Monterey, HP/UX and Novell Modesto. Intel has over fifty independent hardware vendors (IHVs) in place at the moment, and is currently holding a series of "plugfests" to validate drivers on multiple OS and OEM platforms. There's quite a long list of software support, including C, C++, Fortran, Cobol, editors like Premia, Emacs, VI, libraries such as Roguewave, Microquill, Jpeg Pro, debug tools from Rational Purify and Geodesic, Java support such as JVM, JIT and JDK, and muddleware such as Iona, Tibco. What will the Itanium systems initially be used for? Well, it's that rather gruesom ERP, SCM and CRM stuff, databases such as the ineffable Oracle 8i, IBM DB2 and SQL Server, and then Web server apps such as MS IIs, Apache, and Inktomi Traffic Server. Intel claims it has delivered over 2,000 Itanium systems since first silicon arrived, and will deliver several more thousands in the first half of this year. Frequencies are comparable to those of shipping servers, it claims. Fourteen firms including Ford, GE, Boeing and our old friends at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter are targeting vertical segments. There are 20 "significant" equity investments in the Intel 64 fund so far, including for Corba based muddleware and Java translation tools. McKinley, says the document, will have an "enhanced" microarchitecture system bus, will be fully binary compatible with Itanium (great, we can still run Edlin in our DOS boxes), and will include more load store units and arithmetical logic units (ALUs). It will include on-die L3 cache, will re-use a number of existing technologies and software worked for the Itanium. When? End of 2001. It, of course, will be .13µ (micron) technology, and the 870 chipset will also support the next generation of IA-64, codenamed Madison. Madison will have larger on die L3 cache and will be fully software binary compatible with Itanium and McKinley. When? Mid-2002. For the Itanium platform, Intel has 15 OEMs on board, 15 third party vendors (Phoenix, LSI Logic &c), five (or should it be six with Slowaris?) OS vendors, nine compiler vendors, six information tools vendors, 10 workstation vendors, and 16 enterprise server vendors. Sorry guys, there's no gaming vendors on the list -- yet. And if IA-64 architecture does really last 25 years, we regret quite a few of us might not be around to see what's next. ® Pictures Each of these JPGs is fairly large, at 333K apiece IBM's Itanium box. Note the Sequent logo still in place The Dell luggable. Note the fans at the bottom of the unit HP's Itanium running some gruesome database Pictures © Situation Publishing 2000 See also Intel readies Lion Itanium project Intel Developer Forum Q1 2000 Extensive IA-64 coverage on this page
The Register breaking news

AMD Athlon 1GHz retail sales kick off in Japan

Sales of AMD's 1GHz Athlon processor have now started in Japan's high tech area Akihabara, Japanese reader Battlax reports. At the same time, a number of other technologies have started to appear on the streets round Akihabara, which are famous for showing hi-tech the rest of the world has to wait for. You can find the Athlon page, in Japanese, here. The chips are selling for around ¥178,000. A translation of this page, using Lernout & Hauspie software, suggests that the prices are perhaps higher than they ought to be, and although the K7s are available in small quantities, they are available. The same text suggests that there is a scarcity of power supplies to make the 1GHz Athlon run. According to Battlax, the Japanese PC Markets survey site, which may be found here, is also reporting sales of flip chip Celeron IIs at 566MHz, as well as a number of new motherboard platforms for the Athlon which use the Via KX133 chipset. Those include the KA7, the AK72, the M7MKE and the Trinity K7 mobos. The pages are also showing an Athlon overclocking tool called Jumpstart. You can find the KX133 page here. Perhaps more significantly, the site is also showing the debut of motherboards based on Micron's DDR Samurai 64M2 chipset. You can find that page here. According to our translation software, the MTSAM 64GZ mobo costs ¥75,000, in limited quantities. The mobo supports dual Slot One chips, eight DIMMs, and has Lan and SCSI 2 interfaces. At the Intel Developer Forum, Micron was demoing this chipset but reported at the time that the product was unlikely to be anything more than a technology demonstration. ® Conversion rate: ($1=¥105)