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Itanium and Opteron show spotty sales

Xeon unscarred by 64-bit rivals

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Like Macaulay Culkin after the reality of puberty set in, the Itanium and Opteron processors are suffering from growing pains. Try as they might to conquer the server market, the 64-bit processors from Intel and AMD have yet to show serious gains. The latest server data from Gartner shows that only 6,281 Itanium boxes and 31,184 Opteron boxes were shipped in the first quarter of this year. Together, Itanium and Opteron servers accounted for 37,000 of the 1.6m units moved in the period.

Just how bad is the state of the pubescent Itanic? Think of thriving acne with an outside chance of cleansing.

The good news for Intel is that the 2004 first quarter sales were well above last year's total of 1,255 Itanium servers shipped. Along with higher unit sales, revenue also surged from $38m to $282m, according to Gartner. That puts the average sale price of an Itanium server at about $45,000 - a midrange box.

The bad, face-scaring part of that total is that it makes up only a fraction of the $11.8bn in servers sold by all vendors. So if all Itanium vendors do make up an "ecosystem" as Intel likes to say, it's an ecosystem not much bigger than the grotty vegetable crisper in an undergraduate's fridge.

For Opteron, the story is a bit brighter. Think sporadic breakouts controlled by Clearasil dips.

AMD's Opteron processor accounted for $93m in total Q1 server revenue. Gartner does not have year-on-year numbers for Opteron, since the chip arrived after the first quarter closed in 2003. The 31,000 units aren't bad, but they hardly match up to the more than 1m Xeon servers shipped in the quarter.

Good luck with the dating, boys. ®

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