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HP Server Migrations Driving Itanium Market

NEC, Hitachi, and Fujitsu also are focused on mainframe migrations to Itanium but have a far smaller share of the market.
Intel sees money in its high-end Itanium 2 microprocessor, and the numbers from at least one market research firm show that the reason can be summed up in two words: Hewlett-Packard.

Sales of the oft-maligned processor used in high-performance computing is growing, driven mostly by HP's ongoing initiative to move customers with older HP 9000 and AlphaServer systems to its Itanium-based Integrity line. NEC, Hitachi, and Fujitsu also are focused on mainframe migrations to Itanium, but they have a far smaller share of the market.

In 2005, HP accounted for 70% of the total Itanium market of $2.2 billion, according to IDC. In 2006, HP's share rose to nearly 82% of the total market of $3.2 billion. "They clearly have the lion's share of the market," IDC analyst Steve Josselyn told InformationWeek Friday. On a year-to-year basis, the Itanium market overall grew by almost 44%.

HP's push to get customers to switch to the Itanium platform is expected to continue for quite a while, driving significant gains in overall sales. "HP has a stake in the game as they transfer customers over to the new platform," Josselyn said. Revenue from Itanium systems this year is expected to reach $4.2 billion, growing steadily through at least 2011, when sales are expected to reach $6.8 billion, according to IDC.

Intel introduced the dual-core Itanium 2 nearly a year ago, about five years after the original Itanium was unveiled. When introduced in 2001, the chip, which is based on a RISC architecture, was supposed to be the future of servers. Over the years, it has been repositioned as an alternative to IBM's Power and Sun Microsystems' Sparc processors.

Intel plans to drive adoption of Itanium on a road map that includes a next-generation processor built on a 32-nanometer manufacturing process. The new chip is due after 2008 and is expected to include a new microarchitecture. Intel laid out its road map on Thursday.