Intel launches Itanium 9500 microprocessors

Tthis week Intel launched Itanium "Poulson" microprocessors for mission-critical applications. Built on 32nm technology, new CPUs boast twice as many cores, twice instruction throughput, and support for DDR3-1066 memory, resulting in up to 2.4 better CPU performance and up to 33% faster I/O than previous generation of Itanium 9300 "Tukwilla" products. On top of that, the "Poulson" Itaniums add new processor instructions, and new Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability (RAS) features.

Depending on SKU, Itanium 9500 processors incorporate 4 or 8 CPU cores, and up to 32 MB of last level cache. The size of the first and mid level caches on the chips stayed unchanged from 9300 series. Poulson Itanium microprocessors support Virtualization VT-i technology with improved virtualization performance, and Hyper-Threading technology with dual domain multithreading, that allows each core to run two threads at once. The processors also support Turbo Boost technology. RAS features were expanded with Replay Instruction Technology, which can correct soft errors by replaying any processor instruction. Itaniums include two memory controllers, supporting DDR3-800 and DDR3-1066 memory. To communicate with other CPUs in multi-processor systems, the Itanium 9500 series employs Quick Path Interconnect interface with 4 full width and 2 half width links.

Operating frequencies of 9500 series chips range from 1.73 GHz to 2.53 GHz. Quad-core Itanium 9520 operates at 1.73 GHz, and has 20 MB of LLC. Eight-core 9540 is clocked at 2.13 GHz, and has the size of LLC increased to 24 MB. Itanium 9550 with 4 cores and Itanium 9560 with 8 cores run at 2.4 GHz and 2.53 GHz respectively, and they come with the maximum cache size, 32 MB.

Despite of doubling the number of cores, and raising clock rates, Thermal Design Power of CPUs has decreased. Entry-level 9520 has 130 Watt TDP, whereas Itanium 9540, 9550 and 9560 are rated at 170 Watt. The parts are produced in LGA1248 package, and they are socket compatible with 9300 series CPUs. Itanium 9500 processors are priced from $1,350 to $4,650 in 1K quantities.

Starting from the next generation of Itanium microprocessors, codenamed "Kittson", Intel will utilize "Modular Development Model", that should bring closer Itanium and Xeon server product lines. Under this development model, Intel will share silicon design elements, and eventually the package and the socket between Itanium and Xeon chips. This will allow Intel to lower the cost of development of future Itanium microprocessors, and add more RAS features to Xeon platform, with the possibility of both lines to merge sometime in the future.

Please see the table below for the summary of Itanium 9500 series features:

ModelCoresThreadsFrequencyL3 cacheTDP
Itanium 2 9520 4 8 1.73 GHz 20 MB 130 Watt
Itanium 2 9540 8 16 2.13 GHz 24 MB 170 Watt
Itanium 2 9550 4 8 2.4 GHz 32 MB 170 Watt
Itanium 2 9560 8 16 2.53 GHz 32 MB 170 Watt

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