Intel Kool-Aid? x86 not an Itanium success factor

Summary:News.com's Stephen Shankland has an interview with Pat Gelsinger, the co-leader of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group.

News.com's Stephen Shankland has an interview with Pat Gelsinger, the co-leader of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group. Gelsinger's other half is Ahbi Talwalker. Last week I posted the audio from my interview of Talwalker which took place during the last week of February at Intel's Santa Clara, CA campus. In Shankland's interview, Gelsinger echoes what Talwalker told me -- that the market's insatiable appetite for x86-based computers has not been a factor in Itanium's success (or lack thereof). The reasoning is that they target different markets. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if they realize how much they're kidding themselves. I'm not alone in this belief. In his e-mail to me, ZDNet reader Evan Wilner wrote:

There's a world of difference between reading Intel management-speak mediated by industry reporters and hearing it from the horse's mouth....No matter how hard you tried--and you sure tried---your guest wasn't going to admit falling dreadfully short of the initial Itanium plans for taking over the server space....May I make that a general statement? No matter how hard you tried, the Intel man wasn't going to admit ever falling short on any front. As for AMD showing the way to x86 64 bit performance via Opteron, thereby forcing the Xeon 64 bit extensions, no yielding to objective facts....Itanium machines of all types shipped? You know, I know, and your Intel representative knows the public industry studies of numbers of Itanium machines shipped by major OEM's. Some vendors have been measured at shipping in the low hundreds--or even less--in calendar 2004. But what the hell-----the Itanium is a marvelous success because it's allegedly shipping at a rate of 35% of the Power5 space? Hey, give me a break!

I agree. Not only did Opteron shake Intel's copycat EM64T loose from the tree, thereby officially giving the x86 architecture -- the Xeon in particular -- a new lease on life, I still believe that the launch of AMD64 and Intel's response to it was what left HP and its former CEO Carly Fiorina standing at the alter. Tell me if you feel differently. Oh, and to the folks at Intel, feel free to chime in the way Scalix founder Julie Farris fearlessly leaped into the fire with ZDNet's readers. C'mon in, the fire is nice and warm. Just to give this discussion some context, here are some historical quotes. Feel free to dig up some of your own:

Mark Hudson, worldwide manager for business critical systems, HP (7/2002): In the longer term, we see it as a two-horse race - us and IBM...

Paul Otellini, president, Intel (6/2002): We will have (Madison) in production next year.....Itanium will be the enterprise architecture for the next decade.

Craig Barrett, CEO, Intel (5/2002) on AMD's Opteron:
Well, I don't think it's any threat to the enterprise business. I mean Hammer is nothing more than an address extension off of a standard 32-bit machine. It doesn't have data center class capability. That's what the whole Itanium processor family was built to be. So, I don't look at it as a threat there. I don't know where [AMD CEO] Jerry [Sanders] is positioning the product these days. I mean, he just gave it a new name, Opteron. If it has a home, it has a home in those applications that are not data center applications but where you may need that increased addressability in the short term. But that's a very limited number of applications.

Topics: Intel

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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