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Microsoft pulls plug on Intel's Itanic

Wintel core-partner jumps ship

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Microsoft is abandoning Intel's Itanium platform after the current release of its server and tools software.

The software giant said Monday that Windows Server 2008 R2 and the forthcoming SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010 would be the last versions of these server and tools products to run on Intel's giant chip architecture.

Microsoft made the change because of the growing ability of x86 64-bit chips from AMD and Intel to provide the kinds of scalability and reliability that Microsoft is targeting with its servers.

Dan Reger, senior technical product manager for Windows Server, said Windows Server 2008 R2 is ready for the "ever increasing number of cores" on the new and planned x86 64-bit chips from AMD and Intel and on the servers from OEMs such as NEC that use them.

Windows Server 2008 R2 supports up to 256 logical processors.

Itanic has had little to offer Microsoft. When we reported that Red Hat was pulling the plug on Itanic, IDC was quoted as saying that just five per cent of Itanium servers - in Europe at least - ran Windows. The vast majority, 61 per cent, ran Unix while 29 per cent ran Linux.

By continuing to focus on x86 and dumping an additional platform, Microsoft can shave off some of the costs associated with building and marketing Windows. Reger said Microsoft would continue to support users running Windows on existing versions of Itanium, including the recently released Itanium 9300, codenamed Tukwila.

That means Windows users running their servers on Itanic servers get eight more years of coverage from Microsoft under it's usual mainstream and extended support program. ®

Bootnote

Microsoft has delayed release of the version of SQL Server 2008 R2 for data-warehouse appliances from hardware partners. Parallel Data Warehouse edition will now be released following customer feedback from a Technology Adoption Program that was announced last week with the release of a Parallel Data Warehouse technology preview.

The software had been due for release in the first half of 2010. Microsoft said it would announce “more specific timing” along with final configurations and pricing for hardware partners in “early summer.”

Parallel Data Warehouse is based on the DATAllegro technology Microsoft acquired in 2008. Redmond called the technology preview a significant milestone on the integration of DATAllegro, because it now runs on Windows Server and SQL Server.

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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