Intel Changes Kittson Itanium Plans, Jeopardizing HP's Unix Servers

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Shipments of Unix-based servers in the third quarter of 2012 fell by 31.1 percent, while revenue for such servers fell 16.4 percent, according to analyst firm Gartner. Of the top three Unix server vendors, IBM, Armonk, N.Y, saw shipments fall 15.5 percent while revenue fell 2 percent, Oracle saw shipments fall 45.3 percent while revenue fell 35.5 percent and HP saw shipments fall 38.1 percent while revenue fell 28.2 percent, Gartner said.

Intel in November said that its Itanium 9500 processors going forward will include what it termed a modular development module starting with Kittson that will allow a single motherboard to be configured with either a Xeon or an Itanium processor.

The modular development model was touted as a way to enable the sharing of silicon-level design elements and socket compatibility between the two processor families, thereby enabling the development of a single motherboard platform that will work with both.

An Intel spokesperson told CRN that a move away from the modular development model would mean making the Kittson version of the Itanium processor socket-compatible with the existing Poulson Itanium processor, allowing customers to easily upgrade existing servers to Kittson without requiring a platform upgrade.

The decision to change the Kittson roadmap came after an evaluation of the Unix market as a whole and the requirements of server partners who told Intel it would be better to make the Kittson socket-compatible with the Poulson, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also said that moving away from plans to using Intel's 22-nm manufacturing technology should not signal a lack of innovation in the new Kittson processors as Intel is continually upgrading its 32-nm technology.

HP declined to comment on the Itanium processor roadmap update other than to issue a statement that said HP and Intel have a long history of working together on Itanium processors and Integrity systems.

"HP is committed to the Integrity product line, including ongoing innovation and development of a new line of Kittson-based Integrity systems in the future, working closely with Intel. The recent statement by Intel has no impact on those plans or on HP's ongoing commitment to our mission-critical customers," HP wrote in its statement.


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