Intel says Itanium development on track

Responding to criticism over the performance of the first members of Intel's 64-bit Itanium processor family, a company executive said the development of the chip family was in line with Intel's expectations and detailed development work now underway on future Itanium chips scheduled for release in the coming years.

"I think the industry and the analysts are fairly impatient -- I think impatient is the right word -- in the ramp of Itanium but internally the Itanium 2 and the Itanium processor family is actually on track with our expectations," said Andy Combs, general manager of Intel's Enterprise Platforms Group, speaking to hardware makers at the Intel Developer Forum here.

Intel began shipping the Itanium 2, the second member of its Itanium chip family, in July. Formerly known by its codename McKinley, the Itanium 2 offers significant increases in performance over the first Itanium chip and future chips will build on these gains, Combs said.

"The recent release of what we had codenamed McKinley is only the second step in a multi-year investment that Intel has for the Itanium processor family," Combs said. "We literally have more than five other Itanium processors in development right now."

The next Itanium 2 chip to hit the market, codenamed Madison, is scheduled to be released during the middle of 2003, Combs said. It will be made using a 0.13-micron (130 nanometers) process and incorporate 6M bytes of on-chip cache and 500 million transistors, he said.

Madison will offer a performance increase of up to 50 percent over the current Itanium 2, which is produced using a 0.18-micron process and includes up to 3M bytes of on-chip cache and 220 million transistors, he said.

Madison will be followed in 2004 by a 64-bit chip codenamed Montecito, Combs said. Additional details of Montecito, which will be produced using a 90-nanometer process, were not disclosed.

"The Itanium processor is absolutely on its way," Combs said. "You should expect to hear more and more, and louder and louder, support for this as we go through the next couple years.

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