Feeds

Is IBM shutting down its Itanium shop?

Chipset snub says, 'maybe'

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?
Don't worry about that cable, it's part of the config
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES
We don't even know where some of them ARE – Maude
Want to STUFF Facebook with blatant ADVERTISING? Fine! But you must PAY
Pony up or push off, Zuck tells social marketeers
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.