HP, one of the world’s largest makers of servers, workstations, desktops and notebooks, said it was going to cease production of Intel Itanium 2-based workstations, citing demand switch to systems with Intel Xeon processors 64-bit capability known as EM64T.
No More Itanium 2 in HP’s Workstations
“HP is discontinuing its Itanium-based workstations. In working with and listening to our high-performance workstation partners and customers, we have become aware that the focus in this arena is being driven toward 64-bit extension technology,” HP’s spokeswoman Nita Miller told X-bit labs.
At press-time HP did not offer any Intel Itanium 2-based workstations at its web-site. However, the company still allowed clients to purchase servers based on Intel Itanium 2 processors.
EM64T – The Way to Go, Claims HP
“We made moves to support this [64-bit extension] technology during our June 28 launch of the dual-processor HP Workstation xw6200 and xw8200, offering customers standards-based 64-bit computing by using the new Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology (Intel EM64T). This new technology represents a natural evolution of the x86 architecture and allows customers to leverage the broadest set of industry-standard solutions by being able to run current 32-bit and 64-bit applications on the same Xeon-based workstation, providing investment protection and greater agility today, while allowing customers to transition to 64-bit computing in the future,” Ms Miller claimed.
Unlike the Extended Memory 64 Technology branding may imply, Intel’s 64-bit extensions to the x86 architecture are not limited to improvements concerning large amounts of system memory. Intel’s approach to enhance the IA32 architecture is very similar to what its arch-rival AMD implemented into its Opteron and Athlon 64 central processing units.
Intel, just like AMD, added a special CPU mode called “64-bit sub-mode”, where 64-bit flat linear addressing, 8 new general-purpose registers (GPRs), 8 new registers for streaming SIMD extensions (SSE, SSE2 and SSE3) and 64-bit-wide GPRs are available along with instruction pointers. Similar to AMD’s 64-bit chips, Intel’s 64-bit extension technology can run in either legacy IA32 mode or IA32e mode. IA-32e mode is the mode a processor uses when running a 64-bit operating system. The IA32e mode consists of two sub-modes: 64-bit mode and compatibility mode, just like it is implemented in AMD64 architecture.
What About IA64 Software Evolution?
It is believed that Intel Itanium 2-based workstations were purchased by software developers and those who found that there were enough workstation-aimed software for the Itanium. It is unclear how, if at all, workstation software for Itanium-based systems will evolve in future, if other makers of computers decide to withdraw Itanium 2-based workstations.
The fundamental difference between the IA64 and IA32e is large array of software for the latter and necessity to tailor software for the former. Availability of workstations of a certain type and their marker share are crucial motivation for software makers to start or support development. Still, Intel Itanium 2 server in high-end server applications, as time goes, more and more installations of the Itanium 2 see the light of the day.
No AMD64 in Workstations Yet
While HP is making room for Intel Xeon processors with 64-bit capability in the workstation segment, the company does not have any plans to introduce AMD64-based boxes in the segment.
“We constantly monitor the industry for technologies that will benefit our customers. At this time, the HP workstation business unit has no announcement to make about a relationship with AMD for any AMD Athlon 64 or AMD Opterson-based workstation,” Ms Miller stated.