SAN JOSE, Calif. - Is the end near for Intel's Corp. Itanium processor?
Oracle Inc. said that it has decided to discontinue all software development based on Intel's Itanium microprocessor. ''Intel management made it clear that their strategic focus is on their x86 microprocessor and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life,'' according to Oracle. Oracle has developed databases tuned for Itanium.
Intel, however, claims it is still committed to Itanium.
But in a surprise, the database giant also said that others have dropped work on Itanium. ''Both Microsoft and RedHat have already stopped developing software for Itanium,'' Oracle said in a release. ''HP CEO Leo Apotheker made no mention of Itanium in his long and detailed presentation on the future strategic direction of HP.''
Oracle will continue to provide customers with support for existing versions of Oracle software products that already run on Itanium.
Several years ago, Intel rolled out Itanium for high-end servers. The product was late and has been a major bust. Perhaps it is Intel's biggest mistake ever. Only a few companies haved shipped systems based on the processor.
The latest Itanium processor 9300 series, delivers more than double the performance of the previous generation, plus up to six times more memory bandwidth, up to nine times more interconnect bandwidth, and up to eight times more memory capacity.
Intelmade the first technical disclosures about Poulson, its next-generation Itanium processor, at the recent International Solid State Circuits Conference here Monday. Intel said the 3.1 billion transistor CPU is the largest general-purpose processor it has designed to date. Poulson doubles to eight the number of cores and to 12 the number of instructions in flight in its pipeline.
In a blog, Intel issued a statement on its Web site. “Intel’s work on Intel Itanium processors and platforms continues unabated with multiple generations of chips currently in development and on schedule,” said Paul Otellini, president and CEO of Intel, in the blog. “We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture.”
Poulson is Intel’s next generation 32-nm 8-core based Itanium chip, and is on track to more than double the performance of the existing Tukwila architecture. Kittson is an officially committed roadmap product for Itanium beyond Poulson and is also in active development. Intel Itanium processor industry momentum will be highlighted in a keynote at the upcoming Beijing Intel Developer’s Forum.
The biggest thumb-in-the-eye problem for Itanium was that it required new compiler technology (for EPIC technology) which was never developed. As I understand it, most speed improvements from Itanium came from other technologies like: moving to DDR3 memory, die shrinks, multiple cores, all which would have all happened had Intel stuck with HP's super-scalar RISC (PA-RISC, DEC-Alpha, etc). Okay so now the "big race" is down to three horses: Itanium from Intel, POWER from IBM, SPARC from Oracle/Sun. Meanwhile, x86-64 gets more powerful every 18 months and many people wonder if the big three horses are on the verge of becoming irrelevant. With Oracle pushing SPARC, Intel and HP only have one option: Give Oracle's hardware business a spanking by dropping the price of Itanium hardware and software.
p.s. server sales over the past 12 months show HP-Itegrity (HP's brand for Itanium platforms) with at least 80% market share in the Enterprise Server Category. Having Oracle withdraw enterprise's favorite database product will cause this number to drop. Other than a full-scale price war with Oracle, HP doesn't have any other choice than to send Oracle payola to save Oracle on Itanium (cutting Oracle in on Integrity profits)
the best way to understand iAPX 432 is simply "the anti-RISC" - it's almost as if they looked at everything Cocke et al were learning, and chose the opposite.
anyway, ia64 was very usable, and sometimes even competitive in performance. the problem was that x86_64 was so much easier to get along with, vastly cheaper, and soon ubiquitous. the story for ia64 was basically over as soon as Intel gave in to AMD's x86_64. proponents still argue that ia64 has unmatched RAS, but the fact is that modern service architecture is based on having lots of machines, rather than one gold-plated megabox with hotswap raid1 dimms. there's still a market, tiny in volume, for mainframes, though. I don't think that's enough for ia64 to survive on though.
You wrote: "Several years ago, Intel rolled out Itanium for high-end servers. The product was late and has been a major bust. Perhaps it is Intel's biggest mistake ever."
Even worse than the iAPX-432? I don't think so.