Itanium and Opteron fight for significance

Almost there

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The new chips on the block - Itanium and Opteron - continue to make their presence felt in the server market, although still not on the level their producers would have hoped.

Total sales of Itanium-based servers hit $472m in the first quarter, according to Gartner. Opteron server sales came in at $314m. Overall, $12.3bn worth of boxes were shipped during the quarter, Gartner said, meaning that the Itanic/Opteron combo while interesting is pretty minor. Sales of Xeon, Power, Sparc and PA-RISC systems continue to dominate the server market.

It's a bit tough to count Itanium as "new" since the chip has been haunting server customers for many years. It, however, has only been officially on the market since 2001 and has only shown signs of life in the last two years.

Sadly for HP - the main Itanic vendor - sales of systems based on Intel's 64-bit chip appear to have cooled off once again after a solid run. Worldwide Itanium server shipments reached 6,900 systems in the first quarter versus 6,450 in the same period one year again, Gartner said.

That's a much slower growth rate than the fresher Opteron chip. AMD watched as Opteron server sales surged from 33,100 last year to 91,000 in 2005's Q1. Opteron revenue more than tripled to the $314m figure from $99m last year.

The $472m in Itanium sales was up from $287m last year. Customers are clearly buying larger, pricier Itanium systems than in the past, which is a good sign for the Itanic crowd.

HP, Sun Microsystems and IBM have all backed Opteron in a major way with Dell being the only major server vendor to ignore AMD's x86-64-bit chip. By contrast, HP is the only one of the Tier 1 vendors to throw its full weight behind Itanium, leaving the likes of SGI, Bull and NEC to complete the Itanic "ecosystem" so often referred to by Intel executives. ®

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