Time for the decoder ring: Oracle ends Itanium support, ruckus ensues

Summary:Oracle has decided to stop developing software for Intel's Itanium chip because it thinks the processor is "nearing the end of its life." Hewlett-Packard screams and Intel reiterates support for the Itanium. Here's what it all means.

Oracle has decided to stop developing software for Intel's Itanium chip because it thinks the processor is "nearing the end of its life." Hewlett-Packard screams and Intel reiterates support for the Itanium.

Intel's Itanium chip has never been the cool kid on the block. It was launched with a lot of hubbub years ago as a way for Hewlett-Packard Unix to upend IBM mainframes.

Let's use our trusty decoder ring to figure out what's going on.

Oracle says:

Intel management made it clear that their strategic focus is on their x86 microprocessor and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life.

Both Microsoft and Red Hat have already stopped developing software for Itanium. HP CEO Leo Apotheker made no mention of Itanium in his long and detailed presentation on the future strategic direction of HP.

What it means: Look folks, Itanium is targeted at the Unix market, which kind of stinks right now relative to the growth Linux and Windows Server. We have our own flavor of Unix called Solaris that we want to push (on our own chips by the way). This isn't Baskin & Robbins!

Oracle says:

After multiple conversations with Intel senior management Oracle has decided to discontinue all software development on the Intel Itanium microprocessor.

What it means: If you project out a few years, we see no future in the Itanium chip. OK, we read between the lines on an Intel briefing, but we're calling our shot now.

HP says:

HP today reiterated that it will continue the development and innovation of Itanium-based Integrity server platforms with its HP-UX operating system using a roadmap that extends more than 10 years.

What it means: Damn Oracle sucks at coopetition. They're trying to kill HP-UX.

HP says:

HP will continue to support customers running existing versions of Oracle software on Itanium-based Integrity servers, both existing and future platforms, during the same timeframe. Last year, HP launched the industry’s most modern mission-critical architecture in more than a decade. This constitutes the longest published roadmap of any UNIX vendor in the industry.

What it means: Has anyone asked Oracle about Sun's roadmap? Go ahead, we dare you.

HP says:

HP moved ahead into second position in the UNIX market while Sun lost share and fell back into third since Oracle announced it would acquire Sun in April of 2009. It is clear that Oracle customers are voting with their purchasing decisions against the Sun platform. This latest Oracle action of disinformation is clearly an attempt to force customers into purchasing Sun servers in a desperate move to slow their declining market share.

What it means: Oracle is trying to sell its stack. Don't fall for it kids. Email Oracle gcp-customerfeedback_us@oracle.com so the company can ignore you.

Intel says:

As a result of recent announcements from Oracle, Intel is taking this opportunity to directly reiterate its plans for the Itanium processor.  “Intel’s work on Intel Itanium processors and platforms continues unabated with multiple generations of chips currently in development and on schedule,” said Paul Otellini, president and CEO of Intel Corporation “We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture.”

What it means: Well we want to sell you more chips. We don't care if they are called Itanium, Xeon or Potato chips.

Topics: Oracle, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Processors


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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