Oracle: Intel and HP Signed Pact to Keep Itanium Alive for Years

Oracle Accuses HP, Intel of Artificially Keeping Itanium Alive

by Anton Shilov
11/21/2011 | 09:27 AM

Oracle Corp., which ceased to develop Intel Itanium-compatible software earlier this year, accused Hewlett-Packard and Intel Corp. of keeping Itanium processor artificially alive. According to Oracle's filing, HP and Intel forged a contractual commitment to keep Itanium going through the next two generations of microprocessors.


"HP has secretly contracted with Intel to keep churning out Itaniums so that HP can maintain the appearance that a dead microprocessor is alive. The whole thing is a remake of Weekend at Bernie's," a statement by Oracle reads, reports Reuters news-agency.

It is unclear which Itanium generations are mentioned. Officially, Intel and HP plan to introduce two more Itanium chips code-named Poulson and Kittson and there are rumours about post-Kittson chip. Even Intel and HP do not reveal any information about the plans for the IA64 architecture after 2015 and throughout 2020. Perhaps, Oracle knows something about two generations of IA64 chips from the post-Kittson era.

But while the microprocessor hardware Itanium plans may not be completely clear, HP said earlier this year that it has Itanium-based software and server hardware roadmap that spans for more than ten years. For HP, Itanium is important as it allows it to sell its own HP-UX operating system. This allows the company to continue serving it clients who use mission-critical systems that it has been serving with HP-UX and PA-RISC or FOCUS processor-based systems since the mid-eighties. A natural thing for HP to keep those customers is to redesign HP-UX for x86 and offer a clear path for transition. HP clearly has plans to release HP-UX 11i v4 and v5 OSes in the next several years. Perhaps, it will have to add x86 support into the next-gen operating systems.

"These factors led HP to craft a top-secret plan to create a false perception that Itanium still had a future. HP understands that the future prospects of IT products drive customer purchasing decisions. A buyer who knew that Intel saw no future for Itanium, and was only continuing to invest in the line pursuant to a contractual obligation, would devalue the future prospects of Itanium servers and be less inclined to buy," the filing reads, reports AllThingsD web-site.

Despite of rather optimistic promises by Intel and HP, it should be noted that industrial support for Itanium is getting low. Both Microsoft and Red Hat have already stopped developing software for Itanium. 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.

"Nothing more than a desperate delay tactic designed to extend the paralyzing uncertainty in the marketplace created when Oracle announced in March 2011 - in clear break of contract - that it would no longer support HP's Itanium platform," said Michael Thacker, a spokesman for HP.