Itanium Chip for Real, Developer Says

Auckland software company Right Hemisphere Ltd. has proof that Intel Corp.'s Itanium processor is real.

While the launch of the 64-bit processor has reportedly slipped from the fourth quarter this year to early next year, the 3D (three-dimensional) graphics developer has been running Itanium-based systems for several months.

"We're rebuilding our application from the ground up for Itanium," says managing director Mark Thomas. "We estimate that toward the end of the year we'll have it ready." That's around the time when Intel says it will begin making Itanium systems available to hardware vendors for pilot installations.

Right Hemisphere, which develops Deep Paint 3D, is the one organization in New Zealand with early access to the processor.

Thomas says that comes about through Intel's interest in promoting use of 3D technology, which he says takes a significant step forward with Itanium. But the developer says its experience of running an alpha release Itanium with a beta of Microsoft's 64-bit Windows provides just a hint of how the fully evolved IA-64 platform will function.

"Performance seems to be heading along the right path," Thomas says.

The platform will enable a 64-bit version of Deep Paint 3D to perform high-quality interactive rendering, he says.

"What customers expect to do is sit there with latte in hand and watch things happen in front of them." Right Hemisphere was paid a visit last week by Intel's Singapore-based Asia-Pacific IA-64 program head, William Wu.

In an interview with Computerworld, Wu wasn't willing to concede that Itanium's release has slipped behind schedule. He says pilot installations will begin in October and the release of production systems will begin "early next year.""It's not like the Pentium launch; we've come out with a rollout process," Wu says. He does concede, however, that Intel "underestimated the effort" of launching an enterprise level product.

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