According to a source familiar with Intel's plans, the chipmaking giant will introduce on Monday two Itanium 2 processors from its 64-bit Madison lineup. The chips will run at speeds of 1.66GHz, with computer memory cache sizes of 9MB and 6MB, respectively, and are expected to be snatched up by mainframe computer makers such as Hitachi, Fujitsu and Silicon Graphics Inc.
Prices for the new Itanium processors were not made available at press time. Intel currently sells similar processors for as much as $4,227 in large quantities with a 400MHz front-side bus that speeds data to and from the chip. The new versions are expected to ship with a front-side bus that can reach 667MHz.
A representative for Intel said Wednesday that the company does not comment on unannounced products, but the representative did say that the No. 1 chipmaker is working with its manufacturing partners to roll out new Madison parts as it starts to prepare for Intel's next-generation Itanium chip, code-named Montecito. Montecito employs dual-processing cores and is due to arrive at the end of 2005.
"These are likely the last performance bumps before Montecito ships late this year," said Kevin Krewell, principal analyst for semiconductor research firm In-Stat. Krewell said the faster bus of the chips coming out Monday paves the way for the Montecito version, since the dual-core version will need faster bus bandwidth than a single-core processor.
Intel and other chipmakers, such as Advanced Micro Devices and IBM, have all announced plans to transition their product lines to dual-core technologies in the next few years. The technology, which places two computer brains on a single piece of silicon, is expected to solve some of the heat and performance problems chipmakers are facing with future single-core designs.
In concert with the Itanium product announcement will be a presentation by Japan's Hitachi, which is scheduled to show off its next-generation server sporting the new Itanium chips at a customer event in Japan on Tuesday, a source familiar with the launch said. Hitachi demonstrated the system on stage during Intel's Developer Forum back in March.
HP, which co-developed Itanium and remains its chief advocate among computer makers, said its next major jump with Intel Itanium products will be on the Montecito chip.