Exclusive Intel appears to be moving in the direction of rivals Sun and IBM with a future version of the Itanium processor code-named Tanglewood, according to documents seen by The Register.
Tanglewood will mark Intel's most serious foray yet into the world of multicore processors. It will follow the dual core Montecito Itanium that arrives in 2005 and have even more cores per die and low power characteristics, sources confirm.
The chip is a significant departure from its beastly predecessors, including Madison and the low power Deerfield that arrive this year. Instead, Tanglewood resembles the dual core UltraSPARC IV due out from Sun this year or IBM's Power5 chip coming in 2004. All three companies are trying to keep a close eye on power consumption and hoping to take advantage of multicore chips than resemble mini-SMPs.
Intel, however, has a long way to go before customers see it as a power friendly chip supplier. At 130 watts, current Itanics push the limits for what you would want to squeeze safely into a server. By contrast, Sun and IBM have tried to keep their chips cool, saying they take the whole system design into account, and Intel doesn't do systems.
Perhaps, the old Alpha team had a hand in changing Intel's ways. Our documents show that several former Alpha engineers were working on technology for Tanglewood while still at Compaq. Their suggestions for some fault tolerant aspects to Tanglewood appear to have caught the eye of their current bosses at Intel.
Coincidentally, both Intel and Compaq have offices near the scenic Tanglewood area back East in Massachusetts.
If Tanglewood appears in 2006 or 2007, it will likely play a major role in Itanic's success or failure with that being the time period pegged by analysts for Itanic to make its move. But by that time, Sun and IBM will both have chips loaded with many processor cores, so its hard to say exactly how Intel will stack up.
HP will also be relying on Tanglewood-powered servers to please old PA-RISC and Alpha customers forced to move onto Itanic. With both PA-RISC and Alpha on their last legs, 2006 should be a prime time to upgrade kit.
An Intel spokeswoman declined to "comment on speculation about future products that may or may not be in development." ®