Oracle abandons Itanium and claims Intel will follow suit

Oracle has discontinued software development on the Intel Itanium processor platform, further reducing the number of companies actively developing for the technology
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Oracle has stopped all new software development for Intel's Itanium microprocessor.

The company will continue to support existing Itanium customers, but has discontinued developing new products, Oracle announced on Tuesday.

Intel management made it clear that... Itanium was nearing the end of its life.
– Oracle

"Intel management made it clear that their strategic focus is on their x86 microprocessor and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life," Oracle said in a statement.

Launched in 2001 and intended to replace the x86 architecture in high-performance designs, Itanium has been continuously relegated to smaller and smaller niches. Currently, Intel says the chip is aimed at the largest Unix and mainframe markets.

A new Itanium chip, code-named Poulson, was previewed by Intel in February, but the company has itself dropped support for the architecture from its latest compilers.

"Intel is still very much committed to Itanium and our recent Poulson processor investment is a good example of this. We are excited to have both Itanium and Xeon — with a shared common, platform architecture — to offer customers the benefits of open, standards based computing for their mission critical environments," an Intel spokesman told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.

In Gartner's report on the worldwide server market for 2010, the research company noted that RISC and Itanium Unix revenues declined 19.3 percent in the fourth quarter, continuing a trend of decline that had held for multiple quarters.

Ending Itanium support

Oracle will join Microsoft, Ubuntu and Red Hat in stopping support for the chip. Microsoft announced plans to stop software development support for Itanium in April 2010. Popular Linux distribution Ubuntu ceased porting versions to the Itanium and Sparc platforms with the launch of Ubuntu 10.10 in August 2010. Red Hat announced plans to cease support in December 2009.

Intel announced low-power, high-density microservers as a development priority in March, with key chip platforms being its x86-based Xeon and Atom processors.

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