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Is it goodbye for Itanium?

Posted: 28 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Itanium? microprocessor? Poulson? x86? Intel-Oracle partnership?

Will the curtains soon close on Intel Corp.'s Itanium processor?

That is the question on everyone's mind following Oracle Inc.'s announcement that it will abandon all software development efforts related to Intel's Itanium microprocessor. In a statement, Oracle, which has created databases designed for Itanium, concluded that ''Intel management made it clear that their strategic focus is on their x86 microprocessor and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life.''

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 have 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.

Intel made the first technical disclosures about Poulson, its next-generation Itanium processor, at the recent International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Jose, California. 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, multigenerational roadmap for HP-UX and other OS customers that run the Itanium architecture."

Poulson is Intel's next generation 32nm 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.

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