Russian Itanium slayer samples first 130nm processor

Sparc clone today, E2K tomorrow

Elbrus, the would-be Itanium slayer, has begun sampling its 64-bit processor, the Russian company has announced.

Long-time Register readers will recall Elbrus' claims made back in February 1999 that it was hard at work on a "post-Risc" 64-bit CPU that would run four to five times faster than Intel's first-generation Itanium, then known by its codename, 'Merced'.

At the time, Elbrus was seeking $40m worth of funding to back the development of the chip, dubbed the E2K. It was to be fabbed at 180nm and clock at 1.2GHz. It was to offer both IA-32 and IA-64 compatibility.

By May of that year, the company had narrowed its goals to a 600MHz processor fabbed using 350nm technology.

Little was heard of the company - whose founders long claimed to have developed Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) computing before HP pursued it, and to have figured out much of the stuff Transmeta put into its Crusoe CPUs well ahead of the US company's efforts - until May 2002 when Boris Babayan, Elbrus' co-founder and CTO, claimed it would have an E2K prototype out by the end of the year.

Elbrus' latest statement centres on a different chip, the MCST R-500, which the company suggests is the first Russian-made 130nm microprocessor, and who are we to argue? The R-500 is Sparc-compatible and is clocked at 450-500MHz. It consumes less than 1W of power, Elbrus said. It began punching out samples in late February, and the company has already run Solaris and Linux successfully on machines based on the processor.

Elbrus - now known as Elbrus MCST (Moscow Centre of Sparc Technologies) - said it will ship its Elbrus 90 Micro system, which uses the R-500, during the second half of the year.

What of E2K. According to the company's web site, the spec. is back to 1.2GHz based on a 130nm process. It will apparently ship sometime this year. ®

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