Vanquishing the Smoke and Fog with Facts

Observations on the HP-Intel Announcements of December 14-15, 2004

Recent announcements by HP and Intel concerning the re-arrangement of the development team for the Itanium series of microprocessors have prompted much discussion and a fair bit of concern in our community.

Suggestions that Intel is helping HP abandon Itanium by buying the development team are simply not consistent with the facts.

The facts are simple. Intel is assuming control of the entire Itanium engineering team by acquiring the 300-person HP CPU development organization in Fort Collins, Colorado. HP has announced a US$3 billion engineering program in Itanium-based servers. There are also unannounced details to the agreement, presumably including licensing arrangements for HP-developed patents and technologies used in the Itanium series processors. OpenVMS on Integrity (HP's name for IA-64 based servers) has been shown publicly to be on the threshold of final release.

The Intel press release on the agreement clearly shows the importance of Itanium to Intel. Simply put, one does not hire 300 well-paid engineers and incur hundreds of millions of dollars in development costs on two microprocessor chips simply to abandon a successful project.

The concerns expressed about OpenVMS on Integrity are equally, if not more, puzzling. Approximately 42 months ago, I was as surprised as anybody else by the announcement that Compaq would adopt Intel's IA-64 processors. The end of the development of future generations of the in-house designed Alpha RISC chip was shocking, as mentioned in my article on the subject.

After I regained my equilibrium, I downloaded the Intel IA-64 specifications and reviewed them. I concluded that the adoption of IA-64 was eminently feasible. Later that fall, I spoke at CETS 2001 in Anaheim, California on the issues that would face users migrating from VAX and Alpha to Itanium. My sole concern, which was not at all technical, anticipated the recent complaints by some that it is not fair that HP has an inside track on IA-64 technology. Otherwise, I saw no problem with Compaq, then an independent company, successfully proceeding with IA-64 strategy, without a seat at the HP-Intel table.

HP's re-emphasis on systems engineering, rather than large expenditures on CPU chip design, is as unsurprising as it is reasonable. Long-standing attention to the non-CPU aspects of systems design have often distinguished Digital's, Compaq's, and HP's servers from others.

I see nothing in the recent announcements to suggest anything other than OpenVMS on Integrity will be a dramatically successful platform, extending the almost 30-year track record of unequaled reliability, security, and performance long into the new millennium.

URLs for referencing this entry

Picture of Robert Gezelter, CDP
RSS Feed Icon RSS Feed Icon
Add to Technorati Favorites
Follow us on Twitter
Bringing Details into Focus, Focused Innovation, Focused Solutions
Robert Gezelter Software Consultant Logo
+1 (718) 463 1079