Karbosguide.com - Module 3e.11

A guide to Intel Itanium.


The contents:

  • An introduction to Intel's Itanium/Merced
  • The specs
  • The perspective for IA 64
  • Next page
  • Previous page

  • The Itanium/Merced

    [top]
    Merced was the code name for a completely new CPU, which Intel has developed together with HP, who has a vast experience in the manufacture of high end CPUs (RISC).The chip is due 2000 and will be launched under the name Itanium.

    The chippen will cost around $4000.

    Itanium is a IA-64 processor. This means that it is targeted for a completely different type of programs than those we are used to.

    The specs

    This is what I know of the Itanium:

  • A 64 bit CPU with IA-64 architecture.
  • Starting clock frequency: 800 MHz.
  • 25.4 million transistors.
  • "Massive hardware units": 128 integer and 128 floating point registers with multiple integer and floating point units all working in parallel.
  • 0.18 micron technology at 1.8 Volt.
  • Slot M cartridge.
  • 4 MB of Level 3 cache, holding 320 millions of transistors.
  • The L3 cache runs on a 12.3 GB per second bus.
  • VLIW design

    The first chip set for Itanium should become 460GX, which allows four Itaniums on the same motherboard and 64 GB of RAM.

    Later it should be possible to construct super computers holding 512 Itaniums (in clusters of four).

    DDR RAM

    The Itanium chip sets should be designed to use DDR RAM and not Rambus

    Problems with heating

    Heating problems have been reported. The Itanium is extremely power hungry and runs very hot. It has been using up to 130 watts in some tests, and this appears to be a really serious problem. The problems should arise from the choice of VLIW design, which should not be suitable for a general-purpose CPU as Itanium as some articles indicate. I am no expert on these issues, and it sounds weird if Intel should choose thewrong architecture.


    The perspective for IA 64

    There is no doubt that the Itanium is going to be a heavy processor. But it will not end up on many desktops. It is too expensive, and the design is 100% intended the server market.

    There have been speculations about a lousy IA-32 performance. All the programs we use (including Windows 2000) are of 32bits design. This corresponds with the P6 processors (like Pentium III etc.) which also are of 32 bits architecture.

    Now Intel comes with a 64 bit processor. It has to emulate the 32 bit instructions, to execute 32 bit programs like Windows . An emulation is costly, it takes power from the processor. This is also the case with the Itanium; it has to translate each of the IA-32 instruction. Some magazines have claimed that the Itanium will be terrible slow executing IA-32 programs.

    Some articles even claim that Intel wants to dump the Itanium and go for the successor 'McKinley'.

    Anyway, the Itanium will require a new 64 bit operating system - could it be Windows 2064? Linux 64 and NT 64 should be upcoming.


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    Learn more

    Read about drives in module 4a

    Read about chip sets on the motherboard in module 2d

    Read more about RAM in module 2e

    Read module 5a about expansion cards, where we evaluate the I/O buses from the port side.

    Read module 5b about AGP and module 5c about Firewire.

    Read module 7a about monitors, and 7b on graphics card.

    Read module 7c about sound cards, and 7d on digital sound and music.

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