Itanium 2 to Launch to Lukewarm Reception - Page 2

By eweek  |  Posted 2002-07-02 Print this article Print

Intel is heavily counting on Itanium to enable it to break into the lucrative 64-bit market, where high-end systems featuring the chips can sell for $1 million or more. The push has taken on greater importance in the past year as Intel has seen its profit margins on PC processors dwindle due to falling sales and a price war with longtime rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. While Intel contends its not surprised by the tepid response to Itanium, given that its targeted at a conservative market known for slow adoption rates, industry analysts contend the chip may be suffering from its inability to live up to its own hype, which started in 1994 when the then-envisioned processor was first promoted.
"When they first started talking about this, they said it was going to blow away the performance of all the RISC-based processors [like IBMs Power and Sun Microsystems UltraSparc chips] … and its going to be totally backward compatible with Windows-based [32-bit] desktops. That didnt happen," said Tony Iams, an analyst with D.H. Brown Associates Inc. in Port Chester, N.Y.
So while Itanium 2 does shine on some benchmark tests, Iams said, 64-bit chips from IBM and Sun still offer competitive performance, which when combined with their established customer base and vast array of compatible applications gives them a competitive advantage. On another point, enthusiasm over Itaniums once touted backward capability to run 32-bit Windows applications was largely doused last year after tests revealed that the chip could only process such programs about as fast as a 4-year old Pentium II chip.


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