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Intel Not Shaken by Microsoft's Itanium Phase Out

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 18 comments

Only six percent of Itanium systems run Microsoft Windows.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that it will be ending support for Intel's Itanium IA64 architecture after Windows Server 2008 R2's extended support runs out in eight years' time. While having the world's largest software maker saying that it'll no longer be supporting your technology may worry most companies, Intel isn't one of them.

In fact, most of the Itanium servers around the world do not run Microsoft Windows as Patrick Ward, an Intel spokesperson, explained to Xbit Labs: "Windows represents less than 6% of current Itanium sales according to IDC's Q3 2009 server tracker report. Most Itanium users run Unix, specifically HP-UX. Those customers would argue that the combination of HP-UX and the Itanium platform represent a very formidable mission-critical solution, which many of the world's leading companies have chosen."

Intel may have launched its impressive Nehalem-EX architecture in the new Xeon 7500 processor line, the chipmaker still sees the Itanium as the choice for mission critical customers.

"For pure performance, you might go with Xeon processors, but the mission critical customers Itanium targets are most interested in reliability, serviceability and availability features across the operating system, processors and other aspects of their enterprise computing infrastructure. Processor performance is only one aspect of what interests them," said Ward.

So, even though Microsoft and Red Hat have decided to leave Itanium support by the wayside, Intel sees a continued need for its IA64 processor technology.

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  • 3 Hide
    eddieroolz , April 8, 2010 2:46 AM
    Intel of course wouldn't admit that it would be concerned even if it was. Either way, like this article points out, it's not like Windows had a large share with IA-64 anyway.
  • 5 Hide
    alextheblue , April 8, 2010 2:54 AM
    "Only six percent of Itanium systems run Microsoft Windows."
    "Windows represents less than 6% of current Itanium sales"

    So... is it 6 of current sales, or 6% of whats already deployed?

    "So, even though Microsoft and Red Hat have decided to leave Itanium support by the wayside, Intel sees a continued need for its IA64 processor technology."

    Did you expect Intel to say anything different? Even if Intel themselves were dropping support for IA64 themselves, next week, they wouldn't say anything different.
  • 0 Hide
    michaelahess , April 8, 2010 3:46 AM
    I've never had issues with xeon reliability, not sure how Intel can pitch the Itanium as more reliable. I've had xeon systems running for over 10 years straight with hardly more than the occasional reboot. In clusters, there's just nothing that can knock them down, for much less than the Itanium.
  • 1 Hide
    wotan31 , April 8, 2010 3:50 AM
    Who cares about Windows on Itanium anyways? It was a crappy half-hearted port with almost zero application support- just like Windows on DEC Alpha and Windows on MIPS. Nobody was using it, particularly since Microsoft's own enterprise applications like Exchange were never ported to Itanium. HP-UX right now is the only mainstream Itanium user- and only because there is no alternative. PA-RISC has been killed off, and *all* current HP-UX servers from HP are Itanium-only.
  • 1 Hide
    wotan31 , April 8, 2010 3:53 AM
    Also, most Windows servers are dinky inexpensive things. Usually $10k and less. The price point of Itanium is way way higher than that. So it doesn;t fit the budgets of most Windows shops. And if you do have the budget, you're more than likely going for a more robust system running some flavor of UNIX.
  • 0 Hide
    soundefx , April 8, 2010 4:05 AM
    It was about time.
  • 0 Hide
    simple_inhibition , April 8, 2010 5:12 AM
    and the stern of the itanic just crept up a little higher in the air...
  • 0 Hide
    curnel_D , April 8, 2010 12:04 PM
    IA64 is a superior instruction set compared to 86x64, when running certain things. (Most specifically, 64-bit only environments).

    I don't think anyone was really worried that the Itanium was in danger.
  • -2 Hide
    czar1020 , April 8, 2010 1:06 PM
    Hmm I've never with a server that had a CPU related problem. It's either the OS or Hard drives.
  • 1 Hide
    rdhood , April 8, 2010 1:10 PM
    HP-UX and the apps that run on it are HP's cash cow. A data center can no longer purchase an IA64 server with HP-UX with an eye to move to MS in the future.

    This also appears to be a blow to HP's Integrity Virtual Machines. Without RH and MS on board, the Integrity VM strategy may have been a huge expensive marketing and development push to a dead end.

    Tukwila was 3 years late, and that does not bode well for any future IA64 chip.

    All in all, this appears to hurt Hewlett Packard far more than MS or Intel. It throws the integrity virtualization strategy in disarray, it creates a black cloud over future chip development.
  • 0 Hide
    ta152h , April 8, 2010 1:53 PM
    I think a lot of people who are saying Itanium is dead are kind of confused by this. Does the POWER line run Windows? How many companies sell POWER based machines? None? Did POWER die when Apple rather stupidly (why did Apple to got x86 right before POWER chips finally showed a big advantage in performance?) moved to Core?

    Itanium is becoming more polarized as the processor for HP, running HP/UX. Running it on Windows didn't make a lot of sense, since performance wasn't very good. It wasn't selling - Microsoft had a non-competitive product in a segment they didn't have monopoly leverage in and had to yield and give up.

    It's not good for Itanium, but it's not even close to making the product go away. HP is more and more becoming the main supporter and user of it, but it's not that bad a thing when you consider they are the largest computer company in the world.
  • 3 Hide
    AlanDang , April 8, 2010 3:08 PM
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/future-3d-graphics,2560-6.html

    The Itanium reliability is based upon things like core level lockstep which is essentially RAID mirroring for CPUs. It's also got technology like hot-swap CPUs, etc.

    A fully-configured Itanium system has an uptime of 99.99999% whereas a fully-configured Xeon system has an uptime of 99.999%.

    That's the difference between three seconds of down-time PER YEAR versus five minutes PER YEAR.

    Your "occasional reboot" accounts for those 5 minutes per year. Of course, there are a handful of applications that require Itanium reliability. For obvious reasons, running Windows on such a mission critical system doesn't make a lot of sense.
  • 0 Hide
    nforce4max , April 8, 2010 4:44 PM
    AlanDanghttp://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] 560-6.htmlThe Itanium reliability is based upon things like core level lockstep which is essentially RAID mirroring for CPUs. It's also got technology like hot-swap CPUs, etc.A fully-configured Itanium system has an uptime of 99.99999% whereas a fully-configured Xeon system has an uptime of 99.999%.That's the difference between three seconds of down-time PER YEAR versus five minutes PER YEAR.Your "occasional reboot" accounts for those 5 minutes per year. Of course, there are a handful of applications that require Itanium reliability. For obvious reasons, running Windows on such a mission critical system doesn't make a lot of sense.



    I agree in full such systems for ISPs and financial firms MAKES the difference and can easily pay its self off in savings from not having maintenance or getting hit with fees from downtime.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 8, 2010 6:52 PM
    I miss the days when you could tell how good a cpu was by its Mhz.
    Now you have multiple 64bit cores running single thread 32 bit apps.
    cpu doesn't even matter anymore... SSDs are really the only upgrade that will really make PCs faster.
    http://endlessjukebox.com?afid=223
  • 0 Hide
    dante01010 , April 8, 2010 8:09 PM
    Who will run Windows on a great processor like this ?.. it's a waste
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , April 11, 2010 12:33 PM
    Probably too small a market share to make it worthwhile for MS.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 11, 2010 4:13 PM
    Well, obviously the 64 bit instruction set pipes lines on the l2 Cache pipelines in the intanium core coupled with the hyperthread gateway represent huge leaps in 8 bit pathway throughput that will enable data center managers to mess their pants.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 19, 2010 10:09 AM
    Quote:
    I agree in full such systems for ISPs and financial firms MAKES the difference and can easily pay its self off in savings from not having maintenance or getting hit with fees from downtime.


    I hope you can elaborate on that one because it does not have ground. It's cheaper and more reliable to run a cluster of unreliable machines than a single, ultra reliable machine.
    For the ISPs dedicated network hardware is far more cheaper, manageable and reliable. Smart financial institutions should base their software on proven clustering technologies.

    Also in a a system CPU is rarely significant instability contributor factor so it's up to the vendor how other components are built.