Intel's Itanium Again Marches to Different Drummer

Intel (INTC) loves to talk about Moore’s Law, its co-founder’s famed maxim about how rapidly miniaturization improves semiconductors. The company also prides itself on setting the pace, underscoring the strategy recently by deploying its most tiny circuitry in microprocessors for mainstream PCs.

Then there’s Itanium. The high-end microprocessor line, originally developed with help from Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), uses an entirely different technology than the x86 chips that Intel popularized in desktop and laptop PCs and low-end servers. Itanium models have tended to lag the production processes used to manufacture other Intel chips, but the disparity seems particularly stark with the latest version.

Tukwila, the code name for a long-delayed Itanium model introduced Monday, is being built using manufacturing technology that creates lines of circuitry with features rated at 65 nanometers, or billionths of meter. That’s two technology generations behind the 32-nanometer process used in Intel’s latest x86 chips; the company earlier this year announced a $7 billion plan to accelerate the conversion of its U.S. factories to 32-nanometer technology.

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