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Intel Corp. on Wednesday said that it would continue developing Itanium-series microprocessors and the mission-critical platform will continue to exist. The company's statements were a response to Oracle's claims that the IA64 platform was nearing the end of life.

"Intel's work on Intel Itanium processors and platforms continues unabated with multiple generations of chips currently in development and on schedule. We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture," said Paul Otellini, president and chief executive officer of Intel.

Oracle on Tuesday said that it stopped development of all software designed for Intel Itanium platform. The company said that the decision was made due to Intel's focus on x86 and the fact that Itanium was nearing the end of its life. However, the company has clear reasons not to support Itanium: after the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, it obtained its own SPARC mission-critical server platform and has no financial interest in supporting Intel's 64-bit high-end server technology.

Intel recently introduced its new eight-core Itanium "Poulson" microprocessor, which is projected to double the performance of the Itanium central processing units. The Itanium "Poulson" 12-wide issue microprocessor has eight multi-threaded cores with new micro-architecture and a new version of Hyper-Threading technology, a ring-based system interface and combined 50MB cache on the die. The new chip also boasts advances in reliability, availability and serviceability (RAS) to achieve mainframe reliability and resiliency. High speed links of the new chips allow for peak processor-to-processor bandwidth of up to 128GB/s and memory bandwidth of up to 45GB/s, according to Intel. Among the key core architecture improvements, Intel names new floating point pipeline, new data ant instruction popes, new instruction buffer and doubled max execution width (6 to 12). The innovations allow Intel to increase performance per watt, increase instruction throughput and boosted RAS coverage.

Patrick Ward, a spokesman for Intel further noted that Kittson is an officially committed roadmap product for Itanium beyond Poulson and is also in active development. Intel Itanium processor industry momentum will be highlighted in a keynote at the upcoming Beijing Intel Developer's Forum, the firm noted.

The prospects are not exactly bright for the Itanium. Oracle further pointed out that both Microsoft and RedHat have already stopped developing software for Itanium. The new chief executive officer of HP, the biggest supporter of Itanium, also made no mention of Itanium in his long and detailed presentation on the future strategic direction of HP. Other large makers of servers, Dell and IBM, dropped Itanium back in 2005. In early 2011 Intel discontinued support for Itanium in its C/C++ and Fortran compilers. Besides, Intel has not publicly revealed roadmaps for Itanium beyond 2012 - 2013 timeframe and microprocessors code-named Kittson.

Tags: Intel, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Itanium, IA64, Kittson, Poulson

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