Feeds

Is IBM shutting down its Itanium shop?

Chipset snub says, 'maybe'

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Will IBM keep selling Itanium servers down the road? No one knows. It won't say.

IBM is keeping the press in the dark about its Itanium plans, after CNET broke a story revealing that its latest chipset does not support Intel's 64-bit processor. Unlike its predecessor, the "Hurricane" chipset - due out in 90 days - will only work with Xeon processors from Intel. Why did IBM shun Itanium this go round? A lack of sales, of course.

Here's IBM explaining why the new X3 server architecture that includes the Hurricane chipset won't support Itanic.

"We did forgo (Itanium support) on X3," Tom Bradicich, CTO of Intel-based servers at IBM told CNET. "It is a function of the market acceptance of Itanium."

Could this be true?

The Register turned to IBM spokesman Tim Willeford for an answer.

"If IBM has anything to share, we'll drop you a line," he said.

Er, gee thanks.

As it turned, IBM decided it did have something to share. About 10 minutes after we slammed down the phone, Willeford called back with the following message:

"X3 does not support Itanium," he said. "When Intel announces a future generation of Itanium, IBM will decide on support at that time."

IBM will continue to sell its x455 Itanium-based server that runs on the third-generation Madison chip. Intel near year end will release the dual-core version of Itanium named Montecito. It seems IBM will decided at that time whether or not it wants to sell Montectio systems that are based on Intel's own Itanium chipsets.

The upshot of all this is that the days of Itanic could be numbered at IBM.

"IBM told us that they made a conscious decision to not create a parallel path for Itanium in this generation of chipset as they had in the previous one," said Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata. "That's hardly surprising, given IBM's increased emphasis on Power and its continued de-emphasis of Itanium."

"Now that Intel has introduced 64-bit extensions for x86 (Xeon), IBM has a 64-bit xSeries system that doesn't require a separate development effort for not much volume - and one which doesn't compete so directly with Power," Haff concluded.

IBM has a long history of shunning Itanium in favor of its own Power processor. Spokesmen have called Itanic a "science project" and said there is no real market for the chip.

In the fourth quarter, IBM moved just 800 Itanium servers, according to the the latest data from Gartner. That's a 26 per cent drop in sales from the 1,082 systems shipped in the same period last year. IBM pulled in $115m from Itanium sales in all of 2004.

IBM's Power4 and Power5 chips have been strong performers and helped IBM regain server market share from Sun Microsystems and even HP to some extent.

Exactly what this Itanium snub does to relations between IBM and Intel remains to be seen. IBM has bent over backwards to tout Xeon over AMD's Opteron chip much to Intel's pleasure. But with friends like IBM, who needs enemies? ®

Related stories

Disk drive shortage cramps EMC style
Intel puts Itanium saviour on ice
Intel prunes prices
IBM dominates dull Q4 server market
Dell rejects idea of AMD defection
IBM douses Xeon servers with Hurricane

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.