Poulson represents a major shift in Intel's Itanium strategy. It is still the company's mainframe processor, but its focus is changing from legacy mainframe installations to a cloud infrastructure, both for private clouds as as well as cloud environments that are operated to enable a service model. Intel is also aligning the new Itanium much closer to its x86 architecture, making the 9500-series compatible with the Xeon E7 processor's 7500-series chipset. Intel noted that the new Itanium also shares the Xeon's memory buffer, interconnect and "industry standard" memory to make the Itanium more cost-efficient to produce.
Compared to its predecessor, the Itanium 9500 delivers up to 2.4x improved performance and 33 percent greater bandwidth. the 3.1 billion transistor chip integrates up to 54 MB on-die memory, and supports up to 2 TB of low voltage DIMMs in a four-socket configuration. The power band is also slightly improved. Whereas the 9300 series ran from 1.6 GHz to 1.73 GHz at 130 watts to 185 watts, the 9500 series is clocked from 1.73 GHz to 2.53 GHz and rated at a maximum power consumption of 130 watts to 170 watts.
At launch, Intel is offered four versions of the 32 nm Itanium. The 9520 (quad-core, 1.73 GHz), 9540 (8-core, 2.13 GHz), 9550 (quad-core, 2.4 GHz), and 9560 (8-core, 2.53 GHz). Tray-pricing starts at $1,350 for the 9520 and tops out at $4,650 for the 9560.