Intel has more processors than most consumers are aware of spanning categories that have nothing to do with notebooks, netbooks, and desktop computers that we use at home and in the office. Intel has a full line of Xeon and Itanium processors that it offers to computer makers for use in servers for businesses.
The Xeon processor line is Intel’s volume server processor line, while the Itanium processor --which isn't based on the x86 architecture -- sells in much lower volume for niche use in high-end data processing systems for financial, medical, and other uses. The Itanium processors are based on EPIC architecture, and do not support x86 software and operating systems.
That lack of support means that the companies that make software like Microsoft, Red Hat and Oracle have to develop versions of their software specifically to run on the Itanium processors. Oracle announced this week that it will stop developing new software for Itanium-based processors. Red Hat and Microsoft have previously made the same move to stop support. EWeek reports that Oracle decided to stop Itanium development after talks with people within Intel indicated that the chip giant was looking to wind down Itanium production.
A statement from Oracle said, "Intel management made it clear that their strategic focus is on their x86 microprocessor and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life."
However, Intel CEO Paul Otellini strenuously denies that statement. Otellini says that Intel is working hard on developing new Itanium processors and that processors are in the pipe and on schedule in the Itanium family. The next generation Itanium processor is called Poulson and will reportedly use a new architecture that will allow Itanium to continue for years to come.
Otellini said, "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, multigenerational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture."
EWeek reports that Poulson will be a 32nm chip with up to eight cores with twice the performance of the Tukwila Itanium chip in use now. The follow up to Poulson called Kittson is also under development according to eWeek. HP is the largest user of Itanium processors and is not happy with Oracle's decision either.
HP's David Donatelli said, "We are shocked that Oracle would put enterprises and governments at risk while costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity in a shameless gambit to limit fair competition."