The last batch of single-core Itanium processors may be on their way, if predications about an announcement from Intel due next week are correct. The company is expected to release two Itanium 2 processors from its 64-bit Madison line-up, slated to run at speeds of 1.66GHz, with computer memory cache sizes of 9MB and 6MB. Mainframe computer makers such as Hitachi, Fujitsu and Silicon Graphics Inc are expected to be among the main interested parties in these chips. Both Intel and arch rival AMD are expected to begin to phase out their single-core chips in due course.

"These are likely the last performance bumps before Montecito ships late this year," said Kevin Krewell, principal analyst for semiconductor research firm In-Stat. Krewell said the faster bus of the chips coming out Monday paves the way for the Montecito version, since the dual-core version will need faster bus bandwidth than a single-core processor.