The original Itanium was plagued by a litany of problems, including slowness and software incompatibilities. As a result of these issues, as well as delays in the manufacturing process, both IBM and Dell cancelled their orders, leaving HP as the only major manufacturer building systems based on the chip.
The Montecito processor will be available in a 1.6 GHz model for the single core, and 1.4 GHz, 1.42 GHz and 1.6 GHz models in the dual-core versions. All feature lower energy requirements and performance improvements, Intel said.
Although competitor IBM has often poked fun at Itanium, Intel said momentum was swinging to its side. More Itanium-based applications were released in the first half of the year than available in all of 2003, and more than seven of every ten companies on the Global top 100 have chosen Itanium technology.
"Intel remains focused on removing the proprietary shackles that remain in the high-end of the server market segment, and with Dual-Core Itanium 2 processors we are delivering unprecedented IT freedom with a product that excels in performance, reliability and improved energy efficiency," Digital Enterprise Group senior vice president Pat Gelsinger said.
Each Montecito chip has more than 1.7 billion transistors, making it the world's most intricate product design, according to Intel. Additionally, the company has built virtualization technology directly into the processor, which it says makes it an excellent choice for those looking for combine computing power onto a single machine.
Systems based on the Itanium 2 processor are expecting to begin appearing in late August, while the individual chips began shipping Tuesday. Prices of the new processors will range from $740 to $3,692 USD.