Hardware, Software Alliance Boosts Itanium Chip

The as-yet-unannounced group is said to have been formed to work for more software development for Itanium servers.

A new Itanium alliance is gathering, sources say. A group of hardware makers and software companies is said to be close to making public the Itanium Solutions Alliance, a group aimed at expanding software development for the Intel server chip.

Intel Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., which codeveloped the processor, have collaborated with hardware makers and software companies for years on Itanium.

The efforts lead to the creation of numerous 64-bit Linux operating system distributions, for example.

However, a source familiar with the group said there are still some areas that need more attention.

Formalizing the collaboration between numerous Itanium hardware makers and software supporters would serve to fill in gaps, while generally fostering more development around the platform.

Intel declined to comment on the prospect of an alliance.

"We dont comment on unannounced projects that we may or may not be participating in," a company spokesperson said.

However, during its fall Intel Developer Forum, held last week in San Francisco, Intel affirmed its commitment to the platform by unveiling some details about multicore Itanium designs its working on, as well as by discussing numerous customers and new systems from companies such as Fujitsu Ltd. and existing allies such as HP, which added the chip to its NonStop systems in late May.

/zimages/1/28571.gifTo read more about Intels fall Developer Forum, click here.

Right now there are more than 4,500 software applications for Itanium, Intel said at IDF, and the number is expected to increase before the end of this year. But some areas, such as the need to port companies in-house software to the Itanium platform, still need to be addressed more fully, a source familiar with the alliance said.

The alliance, for its part, may be made public within the next few weeks, the source added.

Intel, which said 43 of the top 100 companies—corporations including BP PLC, Pfizer Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp.—have systems based on the Itanium chip, has been continuing development of the chip in the meantime.

A dual-core Itanium 2 chip, dubbed "Montecito," is expected to begin rolling out before the end of the year, and the chip maker said during its IDF that Tukwila, a four-core Itanium chip, is due in 2007.

/zimages/1/28571.gifTo read more about Intels Itanium road map, click here.

Meanwhile, Itanium sales are expected to grow by 20 percent over the next five years, thanks in large part to HPs efforts, analyst firm Gartner Inc. of Stamford, Conn., said earlier this year. Itanium shipments totaled 26,000 in 2004, up from 14,168 in 2003, Gartner said.

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