IBM releases long-awaited Itanium 2 server

IBM Corp. announced Wednesday the availability of its x450 server, the first product from the company to use Intel Corp.'s Itanium 2 processor.

The new server uses IBM's Enterprise X-Architecture server chipset, which was developed to run servers of up to 16 processors. It supports the PCI-X (peripheral component interconnect-extended) bus technology and ECC (error correcting code) memory, and can work with both 64-bit Itanium chips and 32-bit Xeon chips.

IBM had demonstrated the x450 for attendees at Linuxworld last July, and built a cluster with the x450 at The National Center of Supercomputing Applications, but said little else about its commitment to the Itanium 2 processor. IBM also makes its own chip for 64-bit servers, and observers speculated it could have been worried about taking sales away from its product.

Despite excellent performance reviews, the Itanium 2 chip has suffered from lagging interest due to its brand new and relatively unfamiliar instruction set. But nearly a year after it was introduced, momentum is building around Itanium. Hewlett-Packard Co. released workstations this week with the Itanium 2 processor, and Unisys Corp. unveiled a data center server with Itanium 2 and Xeon processors last week.

Intel will release the next version of Itanium 2, code named Madison, around the middle of this year. Madison will contain a larger Level 3 cache than the current Itanium chip, run at 1.5GHz, and come with software that enhances the performance of the chip's built-in 32-bit processing capability.

Dell Computer Corp. is expected to release its Itanium server after Madison has been launched.

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