Precise details about Intel’s Whitefield chip are absent at the moment, just like any details of the architecture. But keeping in mind that Intel tends to use the same micro-architecture for its processors in the course of 4 to 6 years from the initial release, it is pretty clear that the Whitefield may be a father for a lineup of microprocessors designed for servers and workstations and coming out in 2008 – 2013 years.
Nowadays Intel offers IA32 and IA64 chips for different class of servers and workstations. The IA32 architecture is conventional x86 architecture with various performance tweaks and compatible with the vast majority of existing applications. IA64 family of processors called Itanium have some advantages over the IA32 bit chips in terms of performance, but in order to unleash that speed, special software should be developed. Pricing, pretty narrow set of software and very low performance in applications developed for x86 are two major factors that limit the market acceptance of Itanium-based machines.
Intel may consider two possibilities for its future server strategy – to develop Itanium processor that delivers high performance in today’s x86 software, or to develop a processor that boasts with architecture that is compatible with existing applications and delivers performance higher compared to that Itanium is capable of in specially created environments. But when talking about the differences in IA32 found in Xeon CPUs and EPIC arhitecture used in Itaniums, we should keep in mind that Xeon and Itanium chips will be compatible on the socket level at some point.