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Planning the Revolution: Developing the Itanium Processor Family

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Discover the roots of the Intel Itanium processor family, and learn how a partnership between Intel and Hewlett-Packard yielded the next generation of processor architecture. You will also see how the collaboration plans to move enterprises and partners into the forefront of this technological revolution.
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"Wherever you see a high density of intellectual property and a high density of human capital going into the design of a product, you can in fact accelerate this [process] with computing power...You can expand the creativity of your employees...and translate those ideas into marketable designs or marketable products much more rapidly."

—Craig Barrett, President of Intel

In This Chapter:

  • Itanium Architecture's Dual Legacy

  • The Developments in Computing Power Leading to the Itanium Processor Family.

  • The Wide Word Project's Charter

  • The Findings of Itanium's Design Team

  • The Reasons Behind a Partnership with Intel

  • Envisioning a World with Itanium Computing Power

The Itanium Processor Family: Built on Two Impressive Legacies

At the heart of this next wave in computing power is the next generation of computing architectures, the IntelTMItaniumTM processor family. This was the result of a joint development project between Hewlett-Packard and Intel1 Corporation. Intel, with its four-fifths share of the PC microprocessor market and proven ability in microprocessor design and volume production, was a key partner in the project. Hewlett-Packard, also one of the top five producers of microprocessors, came with a slightly different skill set. HP's direction was from the more high value workstation- and server-centric side.

In fact, HP's approach brought unique strengths to this project. There was already a synergy to build on—the PA-RISC architecture and Hewlett-Packard's own flavor of UNIX, HP-UX. PA-RISC was the first form of the RISC architecture that was widely available commercially. PA-RISC, with its simpler instruction set that allowed one or more complete instructions to be executed on a single clock cycle, exhibited a significant performance gain over existing architectures at the time.

HP-UX was the first flavor of UNIX to feature significant commercial application support. HP-UX, particularly HP-UX 11i, perfectly complements the use of the PA-RISC architecture by providing stability and scalability—allowing PA-RISC to work to its maximum capability in the enterprise environment.

Several forces contributed to and enhanced the creation of the Intel Itanium architecture. The reasons for its development stemmed from more than a reaction to the market forces driving the need for more sophisticated forms of computing. At work was the highly successful long-term strategy that HP formulated in the 1990's.

You'll learn about how Hewlett-Packard, together with Intel, determined which direction the next generation of architecture was going to take. You'll also see why this collaboration has yielded the next generation of processor architecture, driven by the collective abilities of the best minds in the field. And finally, you'll start to see how it will move enterprises and partners into the forefront of this technological revolution.

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