Sinking the ship

In the past I've already made some comments on this blog about Itanium and quotes magazine articles about the importance of Itanium for Microsoft and Windows (and Intel). Recently we see more and more stuff like this: "Itanium sinks again in supercomputers"

Michael Kanellos writes on "The Itanium chip family, which Intel has relegated to high-end servers, has rapidly declined on the Top500 Supercomputer list. In November 2004 the list had 84 computers with Itanium 2 processors. In June 2005, the number shrunk to 79. Now only 46 computers contain Itanium 2 chips, according to the latest list, released Monday. Meanwhile, the number of supercomputers using Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron chips has increased. A total of 55 Opteron-based computers made the list, up from 25 in June. (Opterons were found in just 29 computers on the November 2004 list.)"

What's going on with Itanium (r) 2? According to Intel the Intel® Itanium® 2 Processor is "... Intel's highest-performing and most reliable server platform, [that] moves you beyond proprietary RISC platforms to help you meet your business-critical computing needs with proven capability and mainframe-class reliability."

What do you think, do we still need Itanium?

Comments (3)
  1. Edge says:

    I think there’s two reasons Itanium is in trouble, and they’re both Intel’s fault:

    1) Intel didn’t push Itanium hard enough. I know they’ve sunk a lot of cash into developing it, but there really should have been more effort across the board to get these processors into not just servers/mainframes, but also workstations and ultimately desktops.

    2) Intel underestimated backwards compatibility: the x86 support offered on Itanium was, the last time I checked (admittedly a few years ago) pretty pathetic. They probably should have left out the x86 support (better to do that in software via emulation and/or cross-compiling) and focused on making a really kick-ass 64-bit CPU.

    Those two issues aside, IA-64 is a really great architecture that’ll scale well. x86 and x64 both face the same problem: they don’t scale well. IA-64’s weakness is that it needs an advanced compiler to create code that’ll fly.

    I notice that, unfortunately, Microsoft seems to have left IA-64 on the wayside with Visual Studio 2005. During the beta of VS2005 I recall there being an IA-64 target available (complete with compilers and other support material) so you could create IA-64 apps easily. But in the released VS2005 it seems that was left out (at least I haven’t found it!).. Hopefully Intel gets their act together and can get Microsoft behind this technology.

    BTW, for the potential of Itanium and IA-64, give this Anandtech article a read:

  2. Hi Will – thanks for the comment and sharing your view!

    With Visual Studio 2005 Microsoft hid the IPF support a bit. It is available with the Team System edition of Visual Studio. That said, you will not be able to install it on an Itanium based Windows anymore. For IPF cross-platform development only – bummer.

  3. Sander says:

    We really don’t need the Itanic…It’s bus system is very outdated, and nobody really needs floating Point that much. If so, take a Power5 chip…

    Besides, the thing is just too expensive, and slow in integer (compared even to their own Xeon)

    Why does Will think the Itanium scales? Scaling on a bus system? Power5 and Opterons, anything with hypertransport/infiniband/Numa scales, busses don’t.

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