Intel to Release New Itanium CPUs in 2012: New Architecture and Up to Eight Coresby Kristian Vättö on August 22, 2011 2:05 PM EST
Intel held a keynote at Hot Chips conference in Stanford University last week where it announced some details of upcoming Itanium CPUs. While originally meant to conquer the enterprise market, Itanium is mostly used for the ultra high end enterprise space. Itanium isn't backwards compatible with x86 and uses Intel's VLIW IA-64 architecture. Intel claims that Itanium is a four billion dollar business and more than 80% of world's top 100 companies utilize Itanium.
The codename for the new CPUs is "Poulson" and it is the 10th Itanium CPU lineup. The biggest updates are a new architecture, twice as many cores (up to eight), twice the instruction throughput and a 32nm process.
|Comparison of Itanium CPUs|
|Core/Thread Count||Up to 8/16||Up to 4/8|
|Frequency||TBA||Up to 1.73GHz|
|L3 Cache||Up to 32MB (?)||Up to 24MB|
|Transistor Count||3.1 billion||2.046 billion|
|Die Size||544mm^2 (?)||699mm^2|
What's interesting is that Intel is skipping the 45nm process totally and going straight for 32nm. The process change alone would be huge but throw in a new architecture too and Poulson looks like a major upgrade from Tukwila. Doubling the cores is a very aggressive move as well, although not surprising due to the die shrink.
Lets look at the new architecture and the features it provides. First, the new architecture will bring a new feature: Intel Instruction Replay Technology. By inserting instruction buffers between pipeline stages Poulson can more quickly recover from an error in the pipeline. Rather than having to completely flush the pipeline and start over from scratch, Poulson can simply begin execution at the last known good instruction buffer.
Second, the Hyper-Threading Technology receives some improvements. Intel calls the new feature dual-domain multithreading, which Intel describes as allowing for independent front end and back end pipeline execution.
Since the introduction of Tukwila in 2010, Itanium CPUs have shared the same chipset as Xeon MP CPUs (Becton and Westmere-EX) - i.e. the 7500 chipset. Poulson will continue this pattern and will use the same 7500 chipset as its predecessor. This was and still is a smart move from Intel as it allows clients to reuse many elements of existing Itanium designs.