Intel Changes Direction on Next-Generation Itanium Platform
Intel for several years has been working to bring the Itanium and Xeon platforms closer together—what Intel calls the Common Platform strategy—giving Xeon more of the RAS (reliability, availability and serviceability) features of Itanium, and Itanium the economics of Xeon. Currently, Xeon and Itanium share common chipsets, memory and interconnects. With Kittson and the upcoming "Haswell" Xeon chips, the shared capabilities will extend to the silicon, including design (memory, I/O and RAS features) and sockets. Meanwhile, HP has launched Project Odyssey, designed to enable businesses to run their mission-critical workloads on either Itanium or x86 servers within a single platform. Part of that is a project called "Dragon Hawk," an Integrity Superdome system that will run Xeon and Itanium blade servers in the same enclosure. However, the Clabby analysts said in their report that they saw little benefit to this program outside enabling HP to continue to protect the investments it has in the Itanium systems. "We don't see the customer demand for an HP-based converged, combined Itanium/x86 infrastructure (where is the lengthy list of HP customers demanding this?)," they wrote. "We see HP's "converged infrastructure" as a way to keep various HP software programs alive. If Integrity servers are eventually withdrawn from the market, then much of HP's intellectual capital—and associated revenue stream—in operating systems such as HP-UX and NonStop, much of HP's availability/resiliency software, and all of HP's virtualization software investments that are tied to Integrity infrastructure/systems software go down with the ship." The analysts, pointing to Intel's efforts to more closely merge the Itanium and Xeon platforms as part of its Modular Development Model push, said they don't expect Itanium to be killed off, but rather simply disappear.
"The way we see this new approach … is that Itanium essentially fades into a joint Itanium/Xeon design sometime after the Kittson chipset arrives," they wrote. "At this juncture Itanium can be expected to just 'fade away.'"