Chip manufacturer Intel told Reuters on Monday it is shipping systems with prototypes of its new Itanium processor to hardware and software developers so they can develop Itanium-based products. The Itanium chip, which is due in commercial volume by the middle of next year, is Intel's first processor to use its new 64-bit architecture, which processes data in 64 bits instead of the current 32 bit architecture. The Itanium and others in this new family will be initially targeted at higher performance computing.
In August, Intel announced it had achieved first silicon, meaning it had built the first chips from the design of the new product. Now it is shipping servers and professional systems with prototypes of the new chips to help speed the development of future computers and software to run on the new chips.
Developers have been using emulation software that immitated the Itanium processor and its new architecture environment for more than a year. There are now six operating systems running on the new chip, including Microsoft's Windows 2000, Sun Microsystems Solaris and others. Intel remains on course to begin volume production of Itanium processors for commercial use in the middle of 2000.