Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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3/24/2011
01:35 PM
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Intel And HP Back Itanium, Slam Oracle

Chipmaker's CEO says there is no truth to Oracle's claim that Intel has decided to phase out the high-end processor.

In an increasingly acrimonious dispute over the future of Itanium, Intel and Hewlett-Packard traded barbs with Oracle over Oracle's statement that Intel is not committed to a long-term roadmap for its 64-bit, high-end server chip.

Oracle on Wednesday said it's dropping development efforts around Itanium because it believes Intel plans to phase out the chip to focus on more mainstream technologies such as its x86 line of processors. Thursday, both Intel and HP hit back with claims that Oracle is simply trying to confuse customers while promoting its own line of Sun Sparc systems.

"Intel's work on Intel Itanium processors and platforms continues unabated with multiple generations of chips currently in development and on schedule," said president and CEO Paul Otellini, in a statement that Intel said it was compelled to release "as a result of recent announcements from Oracle."

Otellini said Intel is continuing work on both current and future versions of Itanium that will run HP's version of Unix and other operating systems. "We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture."

The current version of Itanium is known as Tukwila. The next version is the 32-nm, 8-core Poulson chip, which promises to more than double Tukwila's performance, according to Intel.

HP was even more blunt, accusing Oracle of deliberately attempting to mislead the market. "Oracle continues to show a pattern of anti-customer behavior as they move to shore up their failing Sun server business," said Dave Donatelli, executive VP for Enterprise Servers, Storage, and Networking at HP.

"HP believes in fair and honest competition. Competition is good for customers, innovation, and the marketplace. We are shocked that Oracle would put enterprises and governments at risk while costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity in a shameless gambit to limit fair competition," said Donatelli.

The concern is that customers who have already invested heavily in Oracle database software running on Itanium-powered HP servers would be forced to rip out the hardware to move to future releases of Oracle, if those releases won't run on Itanium.

But Oracle isn't the only vendor to move away from Itanium. Microsoft and Red Hat both recently said they have discontinued support for the chip. IBM, for its part, has never been an Itanium backer as it promotes its own Power server architecture.

The dispute arose Wednesday, when Oracle said it decided to discontinue support for Itanium "after multiple conversations with Intel senior management." Oracle also noted that HP CEO Leo Apotheker made no mention of Itanium in a lengthy presentation to investors and analysts earlier in the week.

Intel first introduced the Itanium architecture, which it co-developed with HP, in 2001 after a series of production delays.

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