February 14, 2006 4:00 AM PST

Analyst firm offers rosy view of Itanium

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The Itanium processor has had a rocky debut in the more than 11 years since Intel and Hewlett-Packard first announced the chip alliance, but a major analyst firm says things are looking up.

Itanium market awareness is high, not only among the HP server customers who would be expected to know of the processor but also among others, according to a February report from IDC based on a survey of 501 computer system managers at U.S. companies with at least 200 employees.

"Given the colorful history of product development and the slower-than-expected ramp of Itanium server sales, we had frankly expected that awareness of the platform would be spotty and that customer consideration and intent of purchase would be very low. In fact, we found just the opposite," IDC said. "The current market perceptions of Itanium-based servers are quite positive."

The favorable assessment is a spot of good news for a chip family that has been plagued by troubles, including the 2005 delay of its newest model, code-named Montecito. The chip family was expected to sweep the computing landscape, but instead Itanium's difficulties have illustrated what can go wrong when introducing a brand-new design.

As Itanium expectations were pared back over the years, in part because of the success of x86 chips such as Intel's Xeon, estimates for customer spending on servers using the high-end chip fell accordingly.

Despite the woes, IDC sees a relatively rosy future of growth. Customer spending of about $2.4 billion on Itanium servers in 2005 should increase to $6.6 billion in 2009, according to the report.

Over the next five years, nine Itanium allies are sinking $10 billion into work to develop Itanium products and lure software companies to support the chip. The positive perception of the chip for server tasks is a good foundation for the work, IDC said.

Today, HP holds the lion's share of the Itanium server market--nearly 70 percent--but that should even out with the Itanium Solutions Alliance work, IDC predicted.

However, there's still work to be done in Itanium awareness.

HP is using Itanium to gradually replace its in-house chip, PA-RISC, the last model of which HP introduced in 2005. But about 13 percent of HP-UX customers still aren't aware of Itanium, IDC found, and 29 percent weren't aware that PA-RISC was being phased out.

Among other results of the survey:

• About 24 percent of the survey respondents have installed an Itanium system--30 percent among HP customers and 13 percent among non-HP customers. Attracting a broad customer base, in particular customers outside HP, is critical to ensuring broad support by software companies.

• About a third of respondents expect to purchase an Itanium server in the next 12 to 18 months.

• Among PA-RISC server customers, 65 percent plan to move their systems to Itanium systems, most likely within two to three years.

•  Among the PA-RISC customers not planning to adopt Itanium, systems with Intel's Xeon processor are the most likely alternative, expected to be used in 38 percent of cases. Sun Microsystems' Sparc and Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron are tied in next place with 25 percent each. IBM's Power processor family is the expected alternative in 11 percent of cases.

See more CNET content tagged:
Intel Itanium, HP PA-RISC, awareness, Intel Xeon, survey


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Holy Cow, let this wretch DIE!
Never in my life have I seen such a complete and utter definition of what a company/companies that have got together and made a HORRIBLE mistake, yet have TONS of MONEY to WASTE can do!

This processor was a bad idea, designed worse, released obsolete, and market innefective!

There is NOTHING in this processor that others from Intel, AMD, or IBM aren't/haven't been doing for over a year now yet seem to be Hundreds/Thousands of dollars cheaper!

I understand wanting a return on a (disasterous) investment, but when it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck.....well then it IS a DUCK!

Just let it die for heavens sake! I am SO TIRED of reading about the "Itanium". This processor has been "going to change the world" FOR OVER 10 YEARS now!


Sorry, just my opinion....
Posted by dontBhatin (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Itanium rules!
My HP rx2600 (already an old model Itanium 2 box) is still running my main database application smoothly, can't wait to upgrade to the next generation of systems. You say that there's nothing in Itanium that others haven't been doing, but that's just BS. Predicated execution and large, fast on-chip caches are the deal. I can't get more than 64K of fast cache from AMD or 32K from IBM, but Itanium 2 gives me 256K today and the roadmap to megabytes is clear enough.

Anyway, it's good to hear other people are putting their prejudices aside (don't suppose you've ever actually _owned_ an Itanium system, Simple Tech?) and having good experiences with the newer Itanium gear available these days.
Posted by (7 comments )
Link Flag
It is very different to x86 chips, and it does have many advantages over them. In particualar, it is a real 64 bit chip, as opposed to having some bolt on extensions. There is a difference.
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
Yeah and IDC was 95% wrong on Itanium forecast
So much for IDC predictions...

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/28/itanium_04_sales/" target="_newWindow">http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/28/itanium_04_sales/</a>
Posted by (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A more respectable analysis on Itanium...
After 5 years of failed efforts for Itanium to survive, the ISA
needed to bet another $10BN. IDC's forecasts on Itaniums
success was over 95% wrong and they now come out with a
survey that's even more flawed, clearly trying to get some of that
$10BN in marketing funds! Its time to do a reality check folks!
Itanium is flatlining, volumes are decreasing (just ask IDC),
roadmaps have slipped, the #2 and #3 vendors have dropped it
and the new #2 is ready for bankruptcy because of the slips!
Heres a great and respectable analysis on Itaniums futures.
Everyone should read it! <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://valleyviewventures.com/content/" target="_newWindow">http://valleyviewventures.com/content/</a>
The King is dead, long live the King!
Posted by (11 comments )
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