Today, Intel will release two new versions of the 64-bit Intel Itanium 2 microprocessor that's designed for the rack-mount server market. The low-voltage Itanium 2 chip, code-named Deerfield, and a new lower-power version of the standard Itanium 2 chip, code-named Madison, are both aimed at small, two-processor servers that companies use in places where space, cost, and energy are crucial.
The low-voltage Deerfield Itanium 2 runs at 1GHz and comes with a relatively small 1.5MB of cache (higher-end Itanium 2 versions feature as much as 6MB of cache) but consumes only about half the energy its higher-end siblings consume. The new 1.4GHz Madison Itanium 2 also features 1.5MB of cache. The chips don't appear to be barnburners, but they address specific markets. "Our low-voltage Itanium 2 is the result of frequent customer requests," Intel's Lisa Graff told me recently. "It features lower power, enabling more dense solutions."
From a pricing standpoint, these chips should enable the lowest-cost Itanium-based machines ever made. The low-voltage Itanium 2 costs just $744 at volume, whereas customers can pick up the Madison chip for $1172. An Itanium 2 chip with 6MB of cache currently sells for about $4227; by comparison, customers should be able to pick up an entire low-voltage Itanium 2 server for about $5000, Intel says.
For Intel, moving Itanium 2 to volume sales is important for many reasons. New 64-bit competition from AMD is looming, and the potential market is huge. Currently, Intel dominates the overall server market with 88 percent of the market share, but half of the overall server revenue comes from the remaining 12 percent, which is largely made up of expensive RISC UNIX servers. That 12-percent figure represents a $20-billion opportunity for Intel, and moving the Itanium 2 into more market segments is part of the company's wider plan to maintain and grow its overall share.