Intel Corp., hoping to lure users of 64-bit RISC-based systems to its Itanium architecture, will let customers test drive Itanium 2-based servers for free for up to three months, officials said on Monday.
If at the end of the three months the customer likes the results, they can buy the systems, according to a spokesman with Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif. If not, then Intel will remove the server.
The Intel Itanium 2 Solution Challenge, which starts this week and runs through next summer, targets Global 500 businesses using RISC-based computers, according to Intel officials. They said that Itanium 2 is setting solid benchmark records, and that the software ecosystem surrounding it is growing, with up to 1,000 applications tuned to the architecture already available and another 500 due by the middle of next year.
Itanium, which Intel rolled out three years ago, had struggled with sales through most of its life. However, Intel officials said the advances made to the Itanium 2 6M chip—codenamed Madison and released in June—as well as Microsoft Corp.s launch of Windows Server 2003 in the spring has helped fuel the architectures crossover from the high-performance computing space to the enterprise.
In 2004, Intel will release Itanium 2 9M, a chip with 9MB of Level 3 cache and optimized for multi-processor and dual-processor systems. A year later, Intel is due to release Montecito, a chip that will include dual-core processing, multithreading capabilities and 24MB of Level 3 cache.
However, Itanium now is setting benchmark records, and Intel is eager to use Itanium to lure away RISC-based users, officials said, particularly those running SPARC/Solaris servers from Sun Microsystems Inc.
In creating the challenge program, Intel is working with a number of systems makers—including IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co., NEC Corp. and Unisys Corp.—as well as software vendors such as BEA Systems Inc., Microsoft, Oracle Corp. and SAP AG.