HP, Oracle seek pretrial victories in Itanium battle

HP, Oracle seek pretrial victories in Itanium battle

Summary: HP and Oracle both seek a pretrial win in the upcoming Itanium case, over whether Oracle can end its software support for the heavy-duty Intel chip.


The spat between HP and Oracle continues, with both sides seeking a pretrial win in their ongoing battle over whether Oracle can legally end support for the Itanium server.

As a reminder: Oracle discontinued its support for Intel's heavy-duty Itanium chip, often used in datacenter servers, after it claimed it was near the end of its support life and Intel was shifting its focus on 32-bit processors instead. HP continues to use the chip in its high-end servers.

ZDNet's Jason Perlow during a Great Debate put it simply enough: "They need to finally bury the Itanium, because it's been an abysmal failure."

But Intel claimed this wasn't the case.

HP argued that the companies previously agreed support for Itanium would continue as part of a prior settlement. HP sued, and Oracle counter-sued, accusing HP of false advertising for failing to disclose the terms of its contract with Intel.

HP already called on the European regulatory superpowers to intervene in the dispute, asking for an antitrust inquiry that would force a fine onto Oracle up to 10 percent of its global annual turnover.

Oracle asked for a summary adjudication in the case, which is scheduled to go to trail on May 31.

The two companies no longer see eye-to-eye after a series of high-profile hirings and firings, which became personal in nature, as Intel stands in the middle with its technology under scrutiny.

Mark Hurd was sacked from HP and was quickly hired by Oracle, as Oracle's chief executive Larry Ellison criticising how HP handled the move, calling it the "the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago." HP filed a suit against Hurd for seemingly breaking trade secrets laws. HP hit back by hiring Leo Apotheker as its chief executive, and we all know how that turned out.

HP believes that the trade secret settlement in 2010 included provisions to ensure Oracle keeps porting its software to the Itanium platform, with Oracle denying this was the case.

"We don't believe, nor do we think HP really believes, that a settlement agreement relating to Mark Hurd's employment could possibly obligate Oracle to write new software for a platform that is clearly end of life," Oracle's counsel Dan Wall said in a statement. "We are pleased the Court now has the evidence needed to see HP's purported contract claims for what they are."

A hearing on the two companies' request is scheduled for April 30, a month before the trial is set to begin.


Topics: Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Processors

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  • Itanic was always a failure

    Itanium was never a viable chip. Yes it has done ok in supercomputers, but that does not make it a good chip for general purpose systems even if you limit it to servers. It has been kept afloat by huge payouts to software firms to support it, and unfulfilled promises that the perfomance breakthrough will happen any day now.

    I used to be pretty good at code generation and optimization and so about once a year from 2000 to 2007 some headhunter (either freelance or Intel corporate type) would approach me to work on the code generation team for Itanium. They would offer ridiculous bonuses if I could up performance by 50% (one offer was $1M) and it turned out in the discussions that for normal server usage they were getting less than 20% of the chips potential performance.

    The best thing that could happen to HP would be for them to face up to the fact that they need a new server architecture.
  • Contract?

    HP cannot honestly expect anyone to believe that Oracle intended to enter into a formal development contract through the Hurd press release. As a result, I doubt they can force Oracle to support Itanium. Having written that, Itanium is dead, but no more dead than SPARC. If Oracle was making an unbiased decision about the future of chip sets, SPARC should have been dropped as well.