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Intel Remains Committed To Itanium

Despite disinterest by two of the top four major server manufacturers, Intel executives at its Developer Forum this week in San Francisco reiterated the company's commitment to its high-end Itanium processor architecture.

IBM has never been a strong supporter of Itanium, and Itanium wasn't a particularly good fit for the Dell portfolio, acknowledges Pat Gelsinger, senior VP of Intel's digital enterprise group. Strong demand by server original equipment manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard, Unisys, NEC, Silicon Graphics, and Fujitsu, however, will help secure Itanium's place as the choice for RISC replacement in the years ahead, he says.

"It's not surprising that IBM is most interested in pursuing its own Power architecture in market and Dell plays primarily in the volume [x86] space," Gelsinger says. "Where [Itanium] is relevant is in the RISC replacement market, where we believe it is a long-term winner."

Intel's Itanium revenue grew more than 300% from 2003 to 2004, and is being used in server systems in 40 of the top 100 global companies, according to the company. There also have been more than 2,800 third-party applications written to run on Itanium.

IBM has reluctantly supported Itanium in the past, preferring to steer customers to its own RISC-based Power architecture, and Gelsinger says that it's doubtful IBM will continue to offer Itanium-based systems.

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