Intel has announced a new microprocessor for supercomputers - the Itanium 9300 series. It packs a massive 2,000,000,000 transistors onto a single chip - more than twice the number found in the latest Core i7 chips from the company.

The chip has four cores, and up to eight microprocessors can be built into a single server system. That means that a supercomputer built with the Itanium chips can have up to 32 computing cores. Performance, according to HP's SVP Martin Fink, is 2 to 9 times better than existing systems.

There are two more Itanium designs due within the next few years - with followups planned for every 2 years or so. The 9300 series has been delayed for some time, but Intel says that these chips will be attractive to its customers because they share characteristics with the x86 Xeon server chips.

So, if you're thinking of building a supercomputer, the 9300 might be one to consider. If not, just sit there and try and get your head around the idea of 2 billion transistors sitting there on a little slab of silicon.