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Intel Introduces Less Expensive Itanium 2 Chips

Intel rolled out two new Itanium 2 processors this week that will help drive down the cost of 64-bit computing systems. Both processors are optimized for dual-processor servers and workstations, and one of the chips, previously code-named "Deerfield" has lower power requirements.

The new processors are a 1.4-GHz processor with 1.5 MB of L3 cache priced at $1,172 each in 1,0000-unit quantities and a 1-GHz processor with 1.5 MB of L3 cache priced at $744. The six current Itanium versions are priced between $4,227 and $1,338 in 1,000-unit quantities.

The 1-GHz model is the Deerfield processor. Its maximum power consumption is 62 watts, which Intel says is half the consumption of existing Itanium 2 processors. The relatively low cost, it is only slightly more than the top dual-processor, 32-bit Xeon chip ($690), and low power consumption should make it a more attractive ingredient for the rack-and-stack server market.

Analyst Martin Reynolds at Gartner sees the processor introductions as another step in driving Itanium's spread through the market.

"The lower cost and power requirements of these new Itanium 2 chips will enable Intel's hardware partners to offer both low-cost and smaller servers and workstations and will thus increase the opportunities for adopting Itanium technology," Reynolds wrote in a research brief.

Theoretically, the Itanium 2 competes with RISC processors like IBM's POWER processors and Sun Microsystems' UltraSPARC chips. However, a big part of the real competition will be with Intel's own 32-bit Xeon processors, which are widely used in Windows and Linux servers. New lower priced offerings should help Intel make the Itanium look more attractive against Xeon, even as Xeon itself continues to reduce demand for RISC chips, according to Reynolds.

Intel says the number of server and workstation models based on Itanium will double this year to more than 40 two- and four-way systems.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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