Itanium 2: Immature Intel will get there at its own speed

Won't be rushed...

Won't be rushed...

Though the launch of the second incarnation of Intel's 64-bit Itanium processor is imminent, it is still fair to call it immature. The company - and co-developer HP, lest we forget - have spent years of effort and a frightening amount of R&D spend on this Great Leap but the truth is it will take years for most IT users to feel an effect. That isn't because Intel is a PC company. We all know it's much more than that by now, and some 88 per cent of servers are Intel-based. However, we also know high-end servers are still more the preserve of competitors such as IBM and Sun, though IBM is also a purchaser of Intel chips. And that's why Intel can only dream of capturing close to four-fifths of revenue from server chips - the low-end offerings just don't carry the same price tags. No, there is talk of this second generation of Itanium only selling moderately - the tech slowdown is one big reason - and hopes being pinned on the third and even fourth versions. Madison and Montecito are their codenames if you want to keep looking out for them. But Intel won't be too upset. Sun, for one, has shipped 64bit chips for a number of years, chips which work fully with many applications. The company has done well with them but not dented Intel. Intel is a company big and strong enough to move at its own pace, rather like Microsoft often only catching up with other companies' software features in arrears but not suffering for it. And at the moment, moving slowly but surely isn't such a bad strategy. Intel may not be at the vanguard but it'll still do well out of 64-bit computing and Itanium. Users may take a while to warm to its new products but they will. Eventually.