On Tuesday, Oracle issued a press release in which it announced the end of its support for Intel’s enterprise-level Itanium processors. On the surface, an announcement like this from a company like Oracle is none-too-surprising, but going even further, the company stated the reason was due to Itanium “nearing the end of its life.” Come again?
Given that Intel talked a bit about the next major Itanium update, Poulson, at the ISSCC conference this past fall, hearing something about Intel pulling the plug seems a bit odd. Of course, I’m sure any Itanium customer would have preferred to not see the three-year delay for Tukwila, but even so, it’s launched, and seems to be performing well in the market.
In response to Oracle’s assumption, Intel has also posted an update to things, with CEO Paul Otellini stating, “We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture.” Intel also stated that it’d be showcasing some of its Itanium developments at the upcoming Intel Developer’s Forum in Beijing, China.
Some are speculating that Oracle is merely causing strife because its own CPU architectures, including the recently acquired Sun SPARC, are literally not far from being deemed end-of-life themselves. For Intel, even if Itanium isn’t proving ultimately successful in the market (at last check, Itanium was ranked 4th in sales in the enterprise market), it’s clear that with its substantial R&D investments, and desire to remain in the high-performance arena, Itanium isn’t going to go anywhere, anytime soon.
Poulson is Intel’s next generation 32nm 8 core based Itanium chip, and is on track to more than double the performance of the existing Tukwila architecture. Kittson is an officially committed roadmap product for Itanium beyond Poulson and is also in active development. Intel Itanium processor industry momentum will be highlighted in a keynote at the upcoming Beijing Intel Developer’s Forum.