HP Hands Itanium Development off to Intel

Intel and HP announced this month that the chip manufacturer will take over all further development of the two companies’ Itantium family of processors. Though most terms of the deal were not disclosed, Intel will hire HP’s Itanium chip design team, which is located in Fort Collins, Colo.

Additionally, HP will make a $3 billion investment in research and development, server and system software design, partner-led application solutions, and sales and marketing to promote Intel Itanium 2 Integrity servers, the companies say. “The deal strengthens Intel’s investment in the Itanium architecture and bolsters the development of multi-core processors,” Intel said in a prepared statement.

But one analyst says the deal is just one more indication that the future of the Itanium family remains shaky. Though initially heralded as the computing architecture of the future when it debuted in the late 1990s, the first Itanium chips were late and did not meet customers’ expectations, according to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group, a research firm in San Jose, Calif.

Those factors left the door wide open to AMD’s Opteron processor to make headway in a market that had been primed for 64-bit processors.

“[For HP] it was a ‘bet-the-farm’ move and they lost the bet,” says Enderle. “The only thing that saved Intel was its size.”

The second generation of chips, the Itanium 2, has made some headway in data centers to date but Enderle is still skeptical of its ultimate success and feels it has now been relegated to a transitional platform role. “Itanium is not dead but is no longer the future platform,” he says, adding, “Instead of the freeway to the future, it’s now a side street that most of us will not see.”

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.