HP hints Intel's Itanic is ahead of schedule

Will use 64-bit CPU in high end servers and not 32-bit, Unisys-built boxes after all

Hewlett-Packard reckons Intel's 64-bit Itanium CPU is sufficiently ready for market that it has canned a plan to buy and rebadge Unisys servers based on the 32-bit Pentium III Xeon and will instead offer its own IA-64-based hardware.

That's according to HP's global head of marketing for its Intel-based server products, Jean-Jacques Ozil, interviewed by Reuters.

Intel has been piloting the 733MHz Itanium since the beginning of the year. An 800MHz part is expected sometime this quarter, probably reaching volume production early Q3, with wider end user deployments taking place in the Q3/Q4 slot.

Itanium's successor, codenamed McKinley, is due to ship early Q4 in a pilot programme, with broader end user deployments taking place during Q1/Q2 2002.

Ozil's comments suggest that may happen sooner rather than later. "In the window of time we were looking at for the 32-way [server], IA-64 is becoming a better alternative from an investment protection perspective. The 32-way was for next year," he said. You'll note that the past tense is used to describe HP's 32-way server plans, implying 32-way boxes will arrive sometime during 2001.

"Our high end products are eight-way products today. For this we feel we haven't seen major [market] softness besides what we anticipated and reflected at the beginning of the year," said Ozil. "If you look at the kind of timeframe that we had expected for the IA-64, we are not predicting any softness in the market."

Ozil also talks about the Itanium being faster than the Xeon. The PIII part currently maxes out at 900MHz, so is Ozil referring to a 1GHz McKinley? Intel has given no public indication of McKinley's clock speed, and the last internal roadmap we saw made no mention of it either. ®