HP Teams Up with Intel for Itanium Server Launch

Michael Vizard
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Customers Weigh In on Oracle Itanium Controversy

It's pretty clear that many IT organizations are dubious of Oracle's motives.

Intel and Hewlett-Packard collectively thumbed their noses at Oracle today with the introduction of new high-end HP servers based on a new family of Intel Itanium 9500 series processors.

The 2.53 GHz Intel Itanium 9500 series processors can come with up to eight cores per processor and sport a redesigned micro-architecture that results in a processor family that scales 2.4 times higher than the previous generation of Itanium processors. According to Rory McInerney, vice president of Intel Architecture Group and Server CPU Division, the latest Itanium processor, codenamed Poulson, also introduces higher levels of parallelism at the thread processing level that makes the platform ideal for consolidating workloads that currently run on legacy mainframe and RISC-based platforms.

HP is using the Itanium 9500 series processors in three new blade servers for the HP Integrity server line and a significantly faster version of the HP SuperDome 2 platform running HP-UX. According to Lorraine Bartlett, vice president of worldwide marketing and strategy for HP Business Critical Systems, HP’s new lineup of high-end servers not only delivers three times as much performance, but also reduces the total cost of ownership of those systems by as much as 30 percent.

McInerney says Intel’s long-term strategy is to converge some of the silicon functions across its Itanium and Xeon series processors over the next several years using a Modular Development Model across both processor architectures. Itanium processors will continue to exist, but the difference between Itanium and Xeon processors will be confined to the unique silicon required to run specific classes of application workloads. Intel plans to deliver later this decade a Kittson version of Itanium alongside a future Haswell iteration of Xeon processors that will share the same sockets and overall packaging.

Bartlett says that demand for Itanium-class systems is being generated by mission-critical ERP and database applications that are generating workloads that need to scale beyond the capabilities of Xeon-class processors. In fact, while the number of physical servers being shipped may be slowing, the actual number of workloads running on high-performance systems is increasing thanks to virtualization and increased processing power. As a result, HP will continue investing in both Itanium and Xeon class servers. For example, with these new servers HP has made it easier to partition Intel Titanium processors across multiple applications, notes Bartlett.

Oracle had previously accused Intel of essentially abandoning future development of Itanium processors, a claim that ignited a lawsuit from Hewlett-Packard that resulted in a settlement and statement from Oracle concerning its continued commitment to supporting Oracle databases on Intel Itanium processors alongside Xeon and Sparc processors.

Whether customers are ready to more aggressively embrace Itanium systems remains to be seen. But the one thing that is clear is that for the rest of the decade, HP and Intel are pretty committed to finding that out.

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