Photo: Flicrk/White House
Database giant Oracle has discontinued all development on Intel’s high-end Itanium processor, putting another nail in its coffin.In a press release, Oracle said 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 CEO Paul Otellini denied the claim, saying, “Intel’s work on Intel Itanium processors and platforms continues unabated with multiple generations of chips currently in development and on schedule. We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture.”
Itanium was the first 64-bit chip from Intel and was de singed for servers, but it’s been a bit of a fiasco since it was introduced in 2001. Intel chose not to make it compatible with its x86 processor line so developers had to rewrite applications for it or run old apps in an emulator, which hurt performance. It suffered in performance tests against the high-end processors from Sun and other companies.
Oracle bought Sun last year and uses its hardware, which runs on Sun Sparc and Intel’s different (and much more popular) x86 processors.
Itanium never sold very well, and Intel competitor AMD came out with its own 64-bit chips that were more compatible with the x86 line, and Microsoft supported them. This forced Intel to follow and build its own line of 64-bit processors based on x86, which hare now the standard 64-bit processors used in PCs and servers.
Itanium kept limping along, but last year, Microsoft announced that it would no longer create versions of Windows Server or its other software for Itanium. Linux distributor Red Hat has also abandoned the platform.
HP still supports Itanium with its version of Unix, HP-UX, but the company did not mention Itanium at all in its recent strategy day announcements. Instead, HP is focusing on building a cloud computing platform and upping its services business to compete more effectively against IBM.