There's a whirlwind of uncertainty surrounding Intel's Itanium platform. Oracle recently announced its decision to discountinue all software development for Itanium processors, and with the launch of Intel's "Westemere-EX" family of 32nm server chips, including 10-core E7 processors, doesn't Intel itself even care about Itanium anymore? The short answer is 'yes.'
According to XBitLabs, Intel wants people to know that even though Xeon processors are gaining RAS (reliability, availability, serviceability) capabilities, the Itanium platform will remain an important product in Intel's portfolio.
"Instead of Itanium at the top and Xeon at the bottom of the lineup, we are going to have them side by side. With server vendors including Windows, Linux, and Solaris now running on the Xeon architecture, there's no workload in the world today that Xeon can't handle," said Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel's data center group.
Intel and HP contend that the Itanium roadmap extends for more than a decade, and while Xeon processors offer more cores and, in some cases, better performance, Intel says it's important to note that Itanium isn't on the same tick-tock schedule as the company's other processor lines.
"Itanium is on a two-year beat rate. Xeon is delivering up to 40 percent performance, which is a world record. Since Itanium is not on a tick-tock schedule, Xeon and Itanium will leap-frog each other," Skaugen added.