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Intel gets closer to Linux and Unix with Itanium

Intel will increase its efforts in the high-end Unix server market after next year's release of the Itanium chip.
Written by Sonya Rabbitte, Contributor

Intel will increase its efforts in the high-end Unix server market after next year's release of the Itanium chip.

Mike Pfister, vice president and general manager of Intel's Enterprise Platform division, said that revived interest in Linux over the past two years has given Unix mainstream credibility that had not been available to the earlier P6 generation of Intel chips. However, he stressed that it is still important to differentiate between Linux and Unix. While Intel is involved in development projects with both operating systems, Pfister expects immediate success in the Unix market, with Linux projects taking longer to find success. He said: "Linux is a miniscule, shrink-wrapped version of Unix. Lots of features can be added to make it robust. But forget the hyperbole, we're a long way from running mega databases on it. It isn't the darling it was, but that does not mean it is bad. There is a lot of investment in it and the market is maturing." Boas Betzler, a software engineer with IBM's Linux technology centre, agreed there is still a lot of work to do before Linux can succeed in the high-end server market, but it is making steady progress. Linux has already proven that it can scale to other 64-bit architectures and is currently being tested on the Intel model. The new Linux kernel, due for release early next year, should offer improved scalability, Betzler said. However, Eddie Bleasdale, director of open source umbrella group Netproject, criticised Intel for aligning itself with industry trends, saying it should concentrate on making chips and refrain from marketing statements. He said: "Intel shouldn't be second guessing the market. This is going to shake up the market in a big way. How will HP and Compaq respond? Will Itanium be compatible with Intel's chips? These are the big issues. It's not Intel's job to say Unix will be better than Linux. The technology is exciting enough, the rest is just marketing hype."
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