Oracle ends Itanium support

update Company calls time on developing for Intel's microprocessor, following conversations with chipmaker's management team that reveals Itanium's shelf life is "nearing the end", reports state. Intel, however, has refuted these claims.

update Oracle is ending its support for the Intel Itanium, citing that the shelf life of the microprocessors is coming to an end and the chipmaker's management team is focusing its efforts on its x86 product lines. Intel has dismissed these claims, though.

News wire Reuters reported on Tuesday that Oracle is discontinuing all software development on the chip architecture following conversations with Intel's top executives.

Another report by tech news site PC World revealed Oracle's full statement: "After multiple conversations with Intel's senior management, Oracle has decided to discontinue all software development on the Intel Itanium microprocessor. Intel management made it clear that their strategic focus is on their x86 microprocessor and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life."

It added that it will continue to provide customer support for existing Oracle software based on Itanium, which has a different architecture from x86 and requires developers to code differently, Reuters noted.

Intel, however, has hit back at Oracle's claims and reaffirmed its commitment to Itanium.

In a statement released Wednesday, company CEO Paul Otellini said: "Intel's work on Intel Itanium processors and platforms continues unabated with multiple generations of chips currently in development and on schedule. We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system to customers that run the Itanium architecture."

The chipmaker also promised to shed more light on the roadmap for Itanium during its Intel Developer Forum in Beijing later in April.

In an April 2010 report, the chipmaker had also told ZDNet Asia the microprocessor continues to show market viability. Eddie Toh, platform marketing manager for Intel's Asia-Pacific data center group, said most Itanium customers ran Unix, primarily HP-UX, and the proportion of these users had been on the rise. Toh was then citing industry figures.

Itanium support waning
With its announcement, Oracle joins Microsoft and Red Hat which have both also ended support for Itanium.

Windows Server senior technical product manager, Dan Reger, said in an earlier report that Redmond's decision stems from the fact that 64-bit versions of traditional x86 processors can now handle high-end or mission-critical workloads, which were previously the sole domain of Itanium chips.

Rajnish Arora, research director for enterprise server and workstation research at IDC Asia-Pacific, noted in the ZDNet Asia report that Microsoft's decision to end its support would not be a major blow to the viability of Itanium.

"There has been waning interest in the platform in the light of the rejuvenated x86 platform that tends to drive the majority of the Windows market. The emergence of multicores, blades and the rapidly expanding usage of virtualization technologies have made the x86 platform an extremely compelling platform for Windows users who were previously looking at Itanium due to greater scalability, resiliency and security features," explained Arora.