As NASDAQs chief technology architect, Jim Richmann oversees a vast expanse of servers located at data centers in Trumbull, Conn.; New York; and Rockville, Md. One of his many challenges now is to evaluate servers based on Intel Corp.s new Itanium chip.
eWeek Editor at Large and ZCast.tv Editor in Chief John Dodge caught up with Richmann in Austin, Texas, where he was attending an event at Dell Computer Corp. For the video version of this interview, go to www.zcast.tv.
eWeek: What is NASDAQ if not computing power?
Richmann: It does have a reputation of being the high center of technology, and we are very proud of the many high-technology companies that list on the NASDAQ.
eWeek: When youve been a Tandem [Computers Inc.] customer such a long time [15 years], why would you be lured by Itanium servers?
Richmann: We have no real intent or plan to move away from Tandem for the core trade-matching applications.
However, there will be a broad range of opportunities for less expensive and larger numbers of boxes for downstream applications, such as on the Web. The Itanium platform has some price-performance characteristics that make it attractive.
eWeek: What systems would be pushed out by Itanium, and what new applications would it spawn?
Richmann: It would tend to replace existing applications that are very memory-intensive and transactions currently running on large Unix platforms.
In addition to that, I think [Itanium] has the real potential for database applications that we will begin to see over the next year or so as Oracle [Corp.] and Microsoft [Corp.] release database products that are designed specifically for the 64-bit platform.
eWeek: Will Itanium drive down the cost of server-based computing?
Richmann: I think it will drive down the cost of high-platform, high-performance boxes, given the class of the high-end Sun [Microsystems Inc.] machines, HP-UX machines and things like that.
Those classes of systems will definitely see price pressure from these new offerings.
eWeek: Have you evaluated Itanium servers yet?
Richmann: We have, through Dells resources, been fortunate enough to have an Itanium box for approximately two months. It is not in any production system.
eWeek: When do you foresee Itanium coming into NASDAQ in a production capacity?
Richmann: That would be closely related to when Microsoft releases the production code for the XP operating system that supports 64 bits. I would say that you would see that very close to when Microsoft releases the final version of that product.