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Itanium: The Readers Respond

Many thanks for all the feedback on my prior posting on Itanium. While nobody else claimed to have all the answers either (and really, who could yet? Certainly not me), some of the insights you all provided were quite interesting.
One thing that emerged was a pragmatic view of Itanium; if it succeeds, fine; if not, then no big deal. "We're seeing value in displacing certain HP/UX RISC servers with Itanium's better price/performance. Also, we have had similar success on the BEA Weblogic front," wrote one reader. "So, bottom line, we'll continue to exploit Itanium where it provides value. If that space shrinks, then we'll move on."

Another was that x86 has too much going for it as a platform -- and one growing in price/performance -- for Itanium to eventually carve its own niche. "CPU technology will migrate into the 'industry standard' x86/x64 instruction set architecture CPUs. This will allow these CPUs to serve as higher-end server platforms. The x86/x64 ISA will dominate until perhaps replaced by an 'open', royalty-free ISA many years from now," another reader speculated. "Why? Unit volume, dual source competition for x64, software ubiquity on x64. Itanium will be 4th in a four horse race [after x86, Power and SPARC]." Another agreed: "I cannot imagine the old technology of bit-swap processors including the Itanium processor will hold up to the x86 compatible 64 bit chips in the near future."

The advances in x86 processing will no doubt challenge Itanium's abaility to expand a threshold in the market. It'll be most interesting to see how this eventually goes.