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Intel Grooms Itanium 2 For Unix Showdown

After bolstering the capabilities of its high-end Itanium and mainstream Xeon processors, Intel is stepping up its effort to lure companies off Unix-based computing. Helping out are Hewlett-Packard, Silicon Graphics, and Unisys, all of which offer systems to ease the migration.

Last week's "complete refresh" of Intel's Itanium 2 line, and the accompanying road map, will accelerate the move away from Unix-based systems, predicts Abhi Talwalkar, VP and general manager of Intel's Enterprise Platform Group. Companies moving to Itanium 2 platforms will "see great benefits with not only price and performance but also with the choices available in the market," he says.

Windows- and Linux-based servers are the obvious alternatives. The market for enterprise-resource-planning apps on Windows servers will grow at an annual rate of 13% between now and 2008, with the ERP-on-Linux market going up 44%, IDC estimates. Unix-on-ERP servers will grow only 3% during the same period. "There's a looming battle between the Windows and Linux camps [over] ERP systems," says IDC analyst Albert Pang. Microsoft projects its ERP-on-Windows business will grow 150% in the current fiscal year.

HP, SGI, and Unisys all have introduced server systems based on Intel's new Madison version of its Itanium 2, which boosts clock speed from 1.5 GHz to 1.6 GHz and on-chip memory from 6 Mbytes to 9 Mbytes. The new processors boost performance 50% over existing Itanium 2s, but the real kick will come at the end of next year when Intel introduces its dual-core Montecito versions of Itanium 2, which will provide up to a 200% performance gain, Talwalkar says.

Itanium Gathers Steam --  Chart"A lot of architectures are going to hit the wall, so to speak, but [Montecito's] multicore solution could be a deployable answer" to heat and power dissipation, says Jeff Greenwald, senior director of server product management and marketing at SGI, "giving me another 10 years before I have to look at another architecture."

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