Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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3/23/2011
10:03 AM
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Oracle Ditches Intel Itanium

Larry Ellison's move means HP is the last major server vendor still developing software for Intel's high-end chip.

Oracle said it has discontinued all development efforts around Itanium, leaving Hewlett-Packard as the last major server manufacturer still supporting Intel's 64-bit processor.

Oracle said it was no longer confident about Intel's commitment to the platform, which Intel co-developed with HP and first released a decade ago.

"After multiple conversations with Intel senior management Oracle has decided to discontinue all software development on the Intel Itanium microprocessor," Oracle said in a statement. "Intel management has made it clear that their strategic focus is on their x86 microprocessor and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life."

Intel disputed the statement, and said it remains committed to the Itanium platform, which has been beset by production delays ever since it first debuted in 2001.

But Oracle noted that even HP officials seemed to be playing down Itanium. "HP CEO Leo Apotheker made no mention of Itanium in his long and detailed presentation on the future of HP," Oracle said. Microsoft and Linux distributor Red Hat also recently said they would discontinue support for Itanium. IBM, meanwhile, was never an Itanium backer as it promotes its own Power architecture for high-end servers.

Intel released the most recent version of Itanium, Tukwila, last year. The next version, code named Poulson, remains in development and is aimed mostly at the Unix market. Intel also continues to produce its Xeon chips for Windows and Linux environments.

Oracle said it would continue to support customers with existing Itanium systems, while focusing future development efforts on Intel x86 chips and its own Sparc family of processors, which it gained through its $7.4 billion buyout of Sun Microsystems last year.

Itanium has become such a niche product for Intel that Oracle's decision had little effect on the chipmaker's stock. Intel shares were up .02%, to $20.15, in morning trading Wednesday.

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