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HP and Intel reveals new Itanium-based servers

A new server technology has been revealed by Hewlett-Packard and Intel. The technology now uses the heavy duty Itanium processors amidst the on-going battle between Oracle Corp and Hewlett-Packard over servers issues.

The legal wrangling between HP and Oracle stalled the development of new servers running Itanium chips last year. The Santa Clare County Court decision eventually ruled in favor of HP, ordering Oracle to continue making software for servers manufactured by HP running the latest Itanium chips. The case started when HP claimed that Oracle was bound to continue making software for HP’s hardware as part of a settlement between the two companies.

The case began following Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems, which positioned Oracle to compete against its long time partner, Hewlett-Packard. Oracle told HP that it would stop supplying new software versions for  servers compatible with Itanium as it claimed the chip lineage was becoming outdated.

When prompted if Itanium chips can still stay around, especially that x86 chips are becoming more popular, McInerney from Intel had this to say:  “I think that whole thing was litigated and I think the message back is that Oracle is supporting Itanium.”

The new Itanium 9500, codenamed Paulson, boasts of up to 2.4 times more performance compared to its predecessor, has twice as many critical cores, and is more energy efficient.

HP servers running Itanium chips are preferred by big corporations with more rigorous computing requirements.

HP’s new servers will be working with its Superdome 2 and BladeSystem infrastructure. The said hardware, together with the more updated Hewlett-Packard HP-UX operating system software, can handle almost all the dirty work in corporate computing today.

Intel and HP unveiled in a news conference on Thursday the new version of Itanium chip while also introducing the new HP servers that will use them.

The vice president and interim general manager for Business Critical Systems Ric Lewis said that HP will continue to offer its customers other choices like servers based on the popular Intel “x86” chips as well as the new high-end Itanium chips.

Intel’s Rory McInerney, the company’s vice president for architecture group, said that future Itanium chips would be based on some of the existing key features of Intel’s popular Xeon server processors. He did not comment when the new servers would be released though.

Itanium technology encountered some development hurdles before, which makes it lag behind the now more popular 64-bit chips being used in personal computing around the world.  Once touted as the future of high-end processors, Itanium was eventually dedicated to run on servers being sold mostly by HP, as software created for x86 are not compatible with Itanium servers.

HP unveiled a year ago a plan that would allow companies using Itanium servers an option to migrate their programs to the newer and widely used Xeon chips in the near future.

Users will have an option to transfer their applications to Red Hat Inc.’s Linux operating system and Microsoft Corp.’s Windows.

CEO Meg Whitman is in the works to restore growth at HP, whose overall sales of data storage devices, networking equipment to companies, and servers, are expected to drop 5 percent towards the end of this year. Whitman had previously announced that HP’s earnings will not hit analysts expectations.

source: reuters