Intel Delays ‘Tukwila’ Chip Again


Intel has delayed the four-core “Tukwila” `version of its Itanium processor, originally billed as the first 2 billion transistor chip and scheduled for 2007. 

Intel is tweaking the design of its upcoming quad-core Itanium processor, so the new high-end microprocessor code-named Tukwila will hit the market later than previously expected, an Intel spokesperson confirmed.

The company is reworking some of the internals, so Tukwila will have support DDR3 memory and be socket-compatible with future versions of Intel’s Itanium chips. These changes have pushedTukwila’s release date back to the middle of 2009, the chip maker says.

Intel engineers are expected to discuss some additional details and updates to the company’s Itanium road map and Tukwila at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference, which kicks off later in February in San Francisco. Intel engineers also plan to discuss updates to the Nehalem microarchitecture road map and other technology breakthroughs at the show.

Support for DDR3 (double date rate 3) memory is included because Intel believes users wil lmove to the new memory specification sooner rather than later. The revised Itanium platform will also contain a new piece of memory technology called “scalable buffer memory,” which allows OEMs to increase the amount of memory the server systems can support.

Intel already supports DDR3 memory in processors based on the “Nehalem” architecture, which came to market in late 2008.

“We think that DDR3 is the choice of memory for servers in the future,” Patrick Ward, an Intel spokesperson, said during a 5th Feb. interview.

While Intel believes that DDR3 is the future, Advanced Micro Devices believes that customers will want to stick with the less expensive DDR2 for a while. AMD will not switch to DDR3 memory until 2010.

In addition, Intel has redesigned Tukwila so that the chip will be socket-compatible with two other Itanium chips that are currently on the road map. Those two Itanium processors, “Poulson” and “Kittson,” are expected to hit the market in the next two to three years.

While Tukwila is built on Intel’s 65-nanometer manufacturing process, the company plans to skip 45-nm chips within the Itanium family and move straight to 32-nm chips with Poulson.

Intel also plans to roll out mainstream 32-nm processors code-named Westmere in late 2009.

Intel has previously disclosed that Tukwila will offer four processing cores and have an initial clock speed of 2GHz. The chip also supports eight instructional threads and uses 30MB of on-die cache.

Finally, Tukwila will also include a new technology called QuickPath, a high-speed chip-to-chip interconnect technology that will allow this family of processors to connect to another component or another chip on the motherboard.