Itanium Picks Up Momentum, Supporters

SAN FRANCISCO — Ten years ago, Unix was all about proprietary chipsets and Unix flavors. Since then, HP and SGI have ditched their homegrown chips and Unix in favor of the Itanium processor from Intel and Linux.

This migration has picked up steam, with Itanium now accounting for 11.2% of all non-x86 server revenue, according to IDC.

Here at the Intel Developer Forum, the Itanium Solutions Alliance (ISA) held its first Itanium Solutions Summit this week to discuss the growth of Itanium 2-based solutions. There are now 10,000 Itanium applications, doubling the number in the past year.

The newest supporter of the ISA is Oracle . The database software giant announced it will work with the Alliance to certify Oracle software on Itanium platforms. Oracle said it will certify the next major releases of its database and Oracle Fusion middleware across a range of operating systems for Itanium.

For applications that haven’t made the move, Transitive has announced QuickTransit, which lets applications native to different operating systems run on Itanium-based systems. The demo at the show featured Solaris applications running natively on an Itanium-based computer.

With Itanium sales in the first half of 2005 up 40 percent over the first half of 2005, Itanium appears to be finding a home after a bumpy start. That was due to misperceptions of what the Itanium was for, said ISA members.

“There was this misconception that the Itanium would be a volume chip and would displace x86 CPUs and that’s not the case,” said Stephen Howard, director of Enterprise Solution Alliances at HP .

HP recently refreshed its Itanium server offerings with the new dual core Itanium2 9000 chips, which came out in July.

“Although mission critical computing doesn’t put out the volume of mass market CPUs, mission critical servers make up more than half the revenue for the total market,” added Tony DeVarco, senior manager for global technology partnerships at SGI .

Itanium is finding a home with HP customers who bought SuperDome servers as well as old DEC Alpha customers, a legacy platform that HP inherited with its acquisition of Compaq. SGI, which recently expanded its offerings to include Intel Xeon-based systems, also has a strong Itanium portfolio for customers of its older MIPS-based Origin servers

As part of this migration, HP and SGI offered up parts of their respective Unixes, HP-UX and IRIX, to the open source community. This included real-time support, SGI’s XFS file system and numerous other tools and core Unix services.

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