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Intel Pushes Back Tukwila Release Date While AMD Pushes Phenom II into the Enterprise

Intel is pushing back the release date of its upcoming Itanium processor—currently code-named Tukwila—to the middle of 2009 because it's retooling some of the chip's engineering. The additions to Intel's first quad-core Itanium processors include DDR3 memory support and socket-compatibility with future versions of Intel's Itanium chips.

Intel had planned to roll out Tukwila in the early 2009, but the design changes are forcing the delay. One of the changes to Tukwila's design is DDR3 memory support. Intel believes users will move to DDR3 sooner rather than later, and the chip maker wants to update its Itanium road map to reflect that belief. The revised Itanium platform will also contain a new piece of memory technology called "scalable buffer memory," which lets OEMs increase the amount of memory the server systems can support. Intel is already supporting DDR3 memory with its processors based on the Nehalem architecture, which came to market in late 2008.

Although Intel believes DDR3 is the future, AMD thinks customers want to stick with the less expensive DDR2 for a while. AMD won't switch to DDR3 memory until 2010.

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. Although 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.

Check out Intel talking up the Tukwila chip:

Meanwhile, AMD is rolling out five additions to its family of Phenom II processors. The new Phenom II processors are part of AMD's platform for gaming desktops, code-named Dragon, but could have enterprise uses. AMD is putting its high-speed, energy-efficient Phenom II chips up against Intel's Core 2 Duo chips. The chips include a set of energy-efficient tri-core and quad-core chips that AMD seems intent on positioning against the Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 and the Core 2 Quad Q8200.

The rollout comes at a time when AMD has been battling other chip makers, particularly Intel and Nvidia, for market share in the face of declining shipments industrywide. On Jan. 21, AMD confirmed that the prices of some of the new Phenom II processors would be cut by 18 percent.

At the CES event in January, AMD released the Phenom II X4 940 and X4 920 processors as part of its AMD is touting the speed and energy efficiency of the new Phenom II chips, which range from the X3 710 (2.6GHz) and the X3 720 "Black Edition Processor" (2.8GHz) to the X4 805 (2.5GHz), X4 810 (2.6GHz) and the X4 910 (2.5GHz).

In addition to supporting newer DDR3 memory, the Phenom II processors will work with DDR2, in a move designed to give AMD's existing partners flexibility.

"In this market, \[the enterprise\] doesn't get the rapid adoption you see in the consumer side," Dean McCarron, an analyst with Mercury Research, said in an interview. "What I would expect to see happen is corporate clients looking at this technology as the next major refresh opportunity. The next refresh happens right around April, so we'll probably see it show up in June or July."

Check out AMD representatives talking up the new Phenom family:

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