Intel's Itanium rockets to 64-bit shipment lead

Marketing miracle cures Sun and IBM

Intel's can-do spirit paid off today as the company's Itanium processor officially beat out all rival processors in total shipments, according to the latest figures from IHoD (International House of Data).

After more than a decade hawking the Itanic chip, Intel has managed to unseat IBM, Sun Microsystems and HP as the leading 64-bit processor vendor. The IHoD numbers show Intel now holds 51 per cent of the high-end processor market. A massive collection of IT executives celebrated Itanium's achievement at event today in San Francisco.

"This proves that enough money and marketing can make anything possible," said Intel's CEO Craig Barrett. "To be honest, we were sweating the first ten or so years, but, at the end of the day, we knew Intel would own this part of the market that it rightfully deserves."

Intel's server processor chief Mike Fister was a bit more modest.

"I am the lizard king," he said.

Michael Dell, HP's Carly Fiorina, IBM's Sam Palmisano and even Sun's Scott McNealy were all on hand at the Intel event.

"Intel's success with Itanium confirms our hunch that invention is best left to the professionals," Fiorina said. "Did I mention our Adaptive Enterprise strategy?"

Sun's McNealy admitted his company made a huge mistake by refusing to ship servers with the Itanium processor. McNealy announced that Sun will center its entire server line around the chip by the third quarter of this year. Sun will, however, support UltraSPARC-based systems through the end of the decade and provide two more speed bumps for the chip.

"Itanium is like a hockey analogy and a car analogy rolled into one analogy," McNealy said. "It's the best of all possible worlds. That UltraSPARC thing was fun and all, but it really makes more sense for us to make all of our customers move their software onto Intel's really neat product."

"Yeah, it is neat," said Dell. "Industry standard ecosystems are neat."

IBM also plans to stop development of its Power processor. IBM and Sun had managed to fend Intel off for some time, relegating Itanium to the back rooms of a few universities and Microsoft campuses. IHoD, however, said that Itanium sales suddenly took off in the early part of this year, making both Power and UltraSPARC chips "irrelevant".

"We used to think Itanic was just a science project," Palmisano said. "But now we see it as something much bigger than that. I mean it. It's really big - and hot. That excites us."

After cutting a celebratory ribbon, Intel's Barrett declared this "the century of Itanium."

Everyone present clapped politely.

"Microsoft still sucks," McNealy said, as he left the event. ®

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