Intel finally launches dual-core Itanium 2 processor Montecito

Intel has finally launched its much-awaited dual-core Itanium 2 chip Montecito, the latest sibling in its Itanium Processor Family. Doubled performance, reduced power consumption and 'mission critical computing freedom' come as standard, according to the chip giant.

Originally scheduled to launch in 2005, Montecito has generated a great deal of industry noise, not least from analysts who believe the processor will serve as a viable, cost-effective alternative to RISC.

This week, Intel officially launched five new Montecito products, otherwise known as the Dual-Core Intel Itanium 2 Processor 9000 series. It claims that the chips, designed for very sophisticated high-end computing platforms, will improve performance per watt by 2.5 compared to current single-core versions.

"Intel remains focused on removing the proprietary shackles that remain in the high-end of the server market segment, and with Dual-Core Itanium 2 processors we are delivering unprecedented IT freedom with a product that excels in performance, reliability and improved energy efficiency," said Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager, Intel's Digital Enterprise Group.

"The broad system and software support for Itanium 2 processors enables CIOs to move away from aging and expensive legacy systems and instead direct those funds toward standard-based computing and business innovation."

Montecito advocators will benefit from a choice of more than 8,000 applications in production, according to the chip vendor.

Andy Buss, senior analyst at Canalys said that Montecito's cost and performance was now compelling enough for some to consider migrating from proprietary platforms such as PA-RISC.

"Montecito had an odd gestation period as it was originally going to be single core and becoming dual core bumped its release back. But I do think it was generally worth the wait as IT managers do get more for their money - the price performance goes through the roof and the performance per watt goes up substantially," he said.

New features such as enhanced hyper-threading and support for virtualisation should enable organisations to do more with less in a more secure and manageable way, according to Buss.

In response to Intel's announcement, a number of vendors in the Itanium Solutions Alliance (ISA), including Fujitsu and Unisys, have announced plans to ship products based on the new chip.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.