It may be late, but Intel has launched a new Itanium processor that is expected to double the performance of its predecessor. After two delays, Intel on Monday launched the Itanium 9300 series, a quad-core processor code-named Tukwila.

The chip, a 64-bit processor designed for enterprise Relevant Products/Services servers and high-performance computing systems, was slated to be released in early 2009, but Intel delayed the release, saying only that it was undergoing application scalability enhancements. A second delay was announced in May.

Intel may have taken more time than expected, but it said companies, especially Hewlett-Packard, which helped develop the architecture, will benefit from enhancements.

The boost in processing power is what Global 100 companies are seeking, according to Intel. Currently, the Itanium platform is running mission-critical applications for 80 percent of Global 100 businesses. The processor offers 800 percent more system interconnect bandwidth, up to a 500 percent increase in memory bandwidth, and up to 700 percent more memory capacity.

Better Late Than Never

Microsoft, Red Hat, Novell and others praised Intel's new processor.

"Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 support the Itanium architecture," said Ted Kummert, senior vice president of Microsoft's Business Platform Division. "Together with the new features in the Intel Itanium processor 9300 series, Microsoft will provide a platform for businesses to run their mission-critical transaction processing, data warehousing, and business intelligence applications with high levels of reliability and scalability."

Powerful servers will be needed because there will be a 650 percent increase in IT data processing over the next five years, according to a recent Gartner report.

The French Family Allowance Service said it will be able to consolidate multiple data centers into one because of the Itanium 9300's additional throughput and performance.

The processor also handles error corrections across a company's hardware, firmware and operating systems. It improves system availability through recovery from errors that would have otherwise occurred.

Conserving Energy

Hitachi, which has been using Itanium-based products for mission-critical applications since 2001, is excited about the processor's advanced energy efficiency, according to Atsushi Tanaka, general manager of Hitachi's server division.

The processor uses Intel's Demand-Based Switching, which lowers the amount of power consumed when utilization is low. Intel's Turbo Boost technology automatically senses the appropriate performance needed to conserve power.

Intel is working on Poulson, its code name for the next Itanium processor with hyper-threading enhancements. That technology improves business productivity by doing more without slowing down, provides faster response times for Internet and e-commerce applications, and increases the number of transactions that can be processed at the same time.