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Intel Corp's officially claims that Xeon processors may offer better level of performance and availability than the company's Itanium. According to people with alleged knowledge of the matter, Intel has been specifically reappointing engineers from the Itanium teams into development of Xeon central processing units (CPUs) for tome time now.

"Nearly all the Itanium engineers, save a small development team working on Poulson and then rotating over to Kittson, have been redeployed on Xeon-related projects," said person with knowledge of the situation, who wanted to remain anonymous.

At present Intel is developing new technologies that it could implement into its various servers, including those featuring Xeon and Itanium. For many reasons, the former has a substantial number of advantages over the latter, with the compatibility with the x86 being the most obvious one.

"Intel does have few more tricks up their sleeve with respect to Itanium, but with Xeon getting stronger and more capable," the person said.

Currently it is unknown whether Intel drops Itanium/IA64 or not. What is understandable is that Xeon/x86 will be moving forward into the mission-critical server segment and that knowledge and talent obtained while designing RISC/EPIC processors will rather be applied onto Xeon than future Itanium.

One of the problems Intel needs to address is per-core performance of its Itanium chips since a lot of UNIX applications were written back in 1970s - 1980s and cannot take advantage of multi-core CPUs. Competing options like Power and SPARC are reportedly more friendly to thoseoutdated programgs.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.

Tags: Intel, Itanium, IA64, Opteron

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