Maybe Oracle was right

That’s gotta hurt: HP to offer Xeon-based Superdome servers

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Hewlett-Packard is bending on its pro-Itanium stance and will offer Intel Xeon-based versions of its high-end Superdome and NonStop servers, according to the Wall Street Journal and other reports.

These servers are used by banks and other financial institutions and until now ran on more specialized Itanium processors developed by [company]HP[/company] and [company]Intel[/company]. The Itanium chips are, purportedly, very powerful but saw limited traction in the market. Oracle cited the slow growth when, two years ago, it said it would stop supporting Itanium with its database and other software. That caused a major kerfuffle between HP and Oracle, one of its erstwhile allies.

In any case, HP positioned this as a move to retain key large customers as it breaks itself into two entities: HP Enterprise — for cloud, software, storage, etc. — and HP Inc., for printers and PCs.

Antonio Neri, SVP of HP’s enterprise group, told the WSJ that the company will continue to develop Itanium-based machines, but that Intel’s Xeon technology is more mainstream and thus appeals to many customers.

Reached for comment an HP spokeswoman reiterated that Itanium lives: She noted:

Itanium is still important – we have a roadmap that goes out to 2022 (which could possibly expand into 2025) and we will deliver what these customers need to achieve business results. The new servers announced today deliver on HP’s Project Odyssey (announced in 2011), which included bringing x86 into mission critical.

Still others say the writing is on the wall.

“This signifies the end of any big investments in Itanium,” Patrick Moorhead, founder of analyst firm Moor Insights & Strategy, told me. “The bigger question are how IBM and Oracle will look competitively a few years down the road. Developing your own platform with Power and Sparc are very large investments and getting bigger. Intel can literally leverage billions in R&D.”

Note: this story was updated at 9:47 a.m. PST with HP comment.

6 Responses to “That’s gotta hurt: HP to offer Xeon-based Superdome servers”

  1. Looks like itanium is officially dead now and HP will be essentially getting out of the Unix market. Now the Unix/RISC market will be just down to Oracle and IBM. Out of the two I think IBM is in a better position since they have gone the ARM route by opening up POWER with the openpower foundation.

    • I think its just the opposite. Oracle is investing $BN’s in SPARC as well as Fujitsu. IBM has just commoditized Power by giving away the family jewels. Do you really think the other Power vendors have the expertise to come out with enterprise servers to compete against the hand that feeds them? Now that they paid Global Foundries to take their chip fab business, they now have several vendors to deal with that they didn’t before. This adds complexity and that drives up costs and of course time to market. Why would Power8 be 1-2 years behind schedule? The 3yr generation update stopped with Power8 in 2013, 3 years after Power7. And we’re still waiting for a 12-core Power8 announced last year! And many Power8 systems are still not announced.

  2. Boundless

    The other shoe is: does HP have Non-Stop OS running on x86 yet?
    (It was expected in 2015 as of last May.)

    2014 is the year IBM predicted Itanium would be gone. Technically it’s not yet, but it’s a distinction that makes little difference.

    And unless HP gets AMD enrolled in the program (and AMD actually can compete there), HP will still be at the mercy of spIntel, who never delivered to expectations on IA-64 (or auto-magic parallelizing compilers for it, but that’s another story).

    Perhaps they’ll port to ARM next.

  3. JenniferDawn

    lol, selling buggy whips and saying that the horse and carriage are coming back anyday now does not make for a sounds business model.

    You know what IS coming back? Vinyl. As in records.

    Maybe that’s what HP should do, position Itanium as an artisanal, retro computing platform, crafted by PBR-drinking hipsters.

    Couldn’t be worse than their present approach…

  4. I remember the sarcastic writings on referring to the Itanium as the “Itanic”. It seems now some years later that’s finally bearing out. It was a good idea to replace the PA-RISC architecture, especially given how much Intel optimized and researched it’s production processes (no way HP could keep up with them on that) but the one-off, bespoke successor to PA-RISC never caught on like everyone hoped.

  5. This is one example, but it appears from conversations here at HP Discover in Barcelona that HP is moving more toward the middle. They’re shifting their focus toward solutions that appeal to the masses. Itanium was not it. Xeon is.