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Intel swallows Itanic Java pill

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JavaOne It's a tough job. Convincing Java developers that any hardware vendor - let alone Intel in the wake of roadmap set backs - has any immediate relevance.

It's an even harder task sidestepping Intel's thorny heritage with Sun Microsystems over its 64-bit Itanium chipset.

And, it's all made harder by the fact Sun Microsystems has enjoyed an x86 server renaissance thanks to low-cost, multi-core chips from AMD and that Intel was forced to eat crow and follow AMD by belatedly signing on the dotted line with Sun.

That didn't stop Renee James, vice president and general manager for Intel's solutions group, from bravely stepping up to announce a significant expansion in its relationship with Sun and on-going commitment to developers.

In what must have been a hard-negotiated deal, Intel has agreed to port Java to Itanium by mid 2008.

Also promised is fine-tuning OpenSolaris to Intel's x86 hardware, on-going co-operation to boost performance of Solaris on Intel, and research into Solaris' support for Intel virtualization. There was no mention of any Itanium servers from Sun, though.

Tackling gingerly what Sun's former chief executive Scott McNealy once fondly referred to as Itanic (You owe us for that, Scott - Ed), James claimed growing success for the plaform, with a whopping 12,000 applications and eight OEMs for Itanium.

With Sun's AMD relationship and Intel's roadmap stumble hovering in the background, James said:

"Last year we revamped our entire product line... I know some are skeptics, but this is a fantastic time [for Intel]," James said. "We have a brand new architecture. Probably the best products we've had in a decade."

Of course any hardware provider must work hard to earn their stripes at a software conference like JavaOne.

Intel's executive continued: "One of the long held beliefs is, for developers to have payback they need volume... we are working to make sure dual and quad core are mainstream... and you can be assured these aren't very high end and esoteric machines," unlike, say, Itanium.

James claimed one million of its quad core chips will have shipped by the end of 2007 "before our competitors have shipped any.

"By the end of the year, we will move quad core to 45 nanometer" - cue general head scratching and glazing of Java eyes. "That means greater performance at the same power and the best power performance per watt." Thanks for clarifying.

James promised Intel would become "more vocal" on open source, releasing more tools and threading technologies to the community. "We would like to be the platform of choice for any software," she said, losing a little focus on the Java theme of JavaOne.®

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