Intel Launches Itanium 2

The Unix Killer?

Intel on Monday formally launched the Itanium 2.

The much-anticipated processor is the second-generation of Intel's 64-bit processor technology and the one that many industry participants have predicted would mark the entrance of Windows/Intel servers to the 64-bit space that RISC and Unix have occupied for years.

The first 64-bit processor from Intel, Itanium (or Itanium 1 as some now call it), was marked by slow adoption with buyers, primarily drawing software developers interested in playing with the chip and getting ready to port their software to Intel's 64-bit architecture.

Barry Crume, product manager for HP's workstation business, says the trend is already different for Itanium 2, which was formerly known by the code-name McKinley. "But with Itanium 2, a small number of companies are already buying a huge number of systems. Some companies are ready to go," Crume says.

The Itanium Architecture is a multi-operating system platform, but, as in the 32-bit world, Microsoft Windows is where the volume is. Just ask Crume – HP offers three operating systems with its workstations and servers: Windows, Unix (HP-UX) and Linux.

"It's really the Microsoft operating system that is the key to volume on this architecture," Crume says.

The Itanium family will test Windows’ mettle as a large-scale computing platform. Intel says Itanium 2 is for bet-the-business kinds of applications like large databases, business intelligence, ERP and supply chain management.

"Itanium is really going for the big iron systems and the OEMs get that," says Mike Graf, product line manager for Itanium 2.

Intel says 20 vendors will be ready with servers in the 4-way space and more than 10 systems will be available in the 8- to 32-processor space in the next year. To be sure, far from all of those high-end systems will target Windows. All of HP's 8-way or greater systems, for example, won't support Windows deployments until at least 2003.

Application support is ramping up as well. Major database, ERP and business intelligence vendors among others have beta or evaluation versions available and are working on pushing final code out the door.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.