HP Will Put NonStop Server Portfolio onto x86
Executives with both Intel and HP have publicly committed to the next-generation Itanium platform, dubbed "Kittson," but there are no stated Itanium road map plans after that. In addition, Intel officials last February said that Kittson—which is not due for another two to three years—will be built on the 32-nanometer manufacturing process, rather than the newer 22nm process that had been in the earlier plans. Some analysts believe the change in the Kittson plans, as well as HP's Project Odyssey and Intel's efforts to more closely align Itanium and Xeon, are indicators that the end of Itanium's life is on the horizon. "HP's recovery plan for its Itanium-based servers involves converging Itanium with x86 systems using a 'converged infrastructure' to glue the two architectures together," Clabby Analytics analysts said in a report earlier this year, questioning whether HP customers even wanted such a converged infrastructure. "Further, Intel … is sharing common processor design elements and [plans to] create a common socket for both the x86 and Itanium lines (we see this as an ultimate phase-out program for Itanium)." The analysts outlined a range of reasons to believe that Itanium will fade away, from a what they see as a broken ecosystem and increased competition to the market trend of migration from HP-UX to Linux running on x86, the cost of continued development and customer disinterest. Sales of HP's Itanium-based mission-critical systems totaled more than $1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007, but have since fallen to about $400 million a quarter, they said.
HP's high-end server business also took a hit in 2011, when Oracle announced it would no longer port its enterprise software to the Itanium platform. A judge in 2012 sided with HP and ordered Oracle to continue Itanium support, but by then, Oracle's threat had impacted sales for HP's Business Critical Systems Unit for more than a year.