So, what capabilities could be so important, you ask? The most vital enhancement causing the delay is compatibility with DDR3 memory chips, which -- quite honestly -- seems like something a chip shipping in 2009 simply must include. The DDR3 standard enables support for a maximum memory module size of 16GB, and considering that no amount of RAM is really enough (particularly in the server world), adding support for said protocol is probably a smart move. Furthermore, Tukwila is seeing compatibility added for the "same motherboard socket that will be used in future Itanium chips, codenamed Poulson and Kittson." By tossing this in, Intel is assuring prospective buyers that they can upgrade easily to those future chips without having to also purchase a new motherboard. A classy move, and one's that equally beneficial for Intel.
We'd have to agree with the aforementioned spokesman when he stated that "these moves are definitely in the Itanium customer interests," and while any delay is unfortunate, this seems like one we can actually respect and appreciate. Look for the quad-core Itanium -- complete with eleventh hour extras -- to ship sometime around mid-2009 if these most recent plans hold firm.