Instead of holding a launch event at its Santa Clara, Calif., headquarters, Intel released a seven-paragraph statement. But computer makers Dell Computer, IBM and Hewlett Packard were quick to jump in with a host of Itanium workstations and servers based on the new high-end chip.
Itanium was designed to provide a higher level of performance for workstations and servers doing heavy-duty work, such as computer aided design or encrypting and decrypting files.
Wall Street had a muted response to Itanium's release, as Intel shares fell $1.25 to $27.85. They have traded as high as $75.81 in the past year.
Itanium is seen as a key weapon in Intel's effort to challenge Sun Microsystems in the server market. High-end servers, where Sun dominates with systems based on its RISC processors, aren't expected to proliferate around Intel chips until the company comes out with "McKinley," the Itanium successor due next year.
Some of the first machines to ship will be workstations, which manufacturers such as Dell will aim at scientific computing and design applications, among others.
Dell's new Precision Workstation 730 will ship in June, according to the company. Its price will start at $7,999, with a single 733MHz Itanium chip, 1GB of memory and an 18GB hard drive. It will be loaded with a beta version of Microsoft's 64-bit Windows XP operating system.
IBM also announced a new IntelliStation Z Pro model. The machine will also ship in June, for a starting price of $16,799, the company said.
Hewlett-Packard said Tuesday that its new Workstation i2000 would ship with single- or dual-processor configurations.
The company plans to offer two Itanium servers, the HP Server rx4610 with up to four processors and the HP Server rx9610 with up to 16 processors. The company said it will begin shipping the systems in late June for prices starting at $7,000.
IBM will also offer a new Itanium server in its X380 series. The server will begin shipping in July with a starting price between $18,000 and $22,000, an IBM representative said. The machine will be capable of housing up to four processors and 64GB of memory.
Dell has said that it will join the fray with a four-processor PowerEdge 7150 later this year.
Compaq Computer and Gateway also are expected to offer servers at a later date.
To date, Intel has shipped about 40,000 Itanium chips via sample and pilot programs.
The chipmaker has said it expects eight to 10 PC makers to initially announce products based on the chip. Over the course of the year, Intel expects another 15 computer manufacturers to pick up Itanium, for a total of 25 companies shipping about 35 models.
Meanwhile, the company has said to expect software makers to announce between 20 to 60 applications in the next few months. Over the course of the year, Intel expects developers to announce many more applications, for a total of about 400, an Intel representative said.
Seven operating systems will be available for the chip, including the HP-UX and IBM's AIX-5L versions of Unix, Microsoft's Windows and 64-bit versions of Linux from Red Hat, Caldera, SuSE and TurboLinux. The OSes are in various stages of completion at this time.