Ending a disappointing chapter in its history, Hewlett-Packard todayannounced that Intel would hire its Itanium chip team, severing a 12-yeardevelopment partnership between the companies. HP, however, said it wasstill planning to spend US$3 billion over three years on the 64-bittechnology.
“It surprised me to find there were still HP guys involved in it,” EnderleGroup principal analyst Rob Enderle told TechNewsWorld.
The Itanium chip, envisioned a decade ago as a bridge between 32-bit and64-bit applications, was doomed by cost overruns and a late appearance.
“It was incredibly late, and when it showed up, it wasn’tthe right part, at least not for the broad market,” Enderle said. “So AMDwas able to slip in and steal any momentum that Itanium had.”
AMD’s 64-bit Opteron processor, designed for high-performance corporate use,beat Intel’s planned workstation chip to market. The original Itanium chip did not handle 32-bit applications well, Enderlesaid, making it useless as a transition chip.
Intel will extend job offers to several hundred HP engineers who worked onthe Itanium project at HP’s Fort Collins, Colorado, campus.
The HP team helpedbuild the upcoming dual-core processors code-named “Montecito” and”Montvale” and will continue to work on them. Intel said theengineers will be added to the team developing the multi-core processor,code-named “Tukwila,” and on other future Itanium processors.
“Intel’s clearly keeping the part, and these folks have a unique skill set. Idon’t know where else you’re going to get folks like this,” Enderle said.
HP will continue to design Itanium chipsets and develop the market for itsItanium 2-based Integrity servers, which it has positioned as a replacementfor PA-RISC systems.
It will also use the money to recruit software makers into the Itanium “ecosystem,” helping them to optimize their products for the processor and encouraging them to design new 64-bit applications.
In September, HP announced it would stop building high-performanceworkstations with Itanium processors. It said a lack of 64-bit applicationsfrom Microsoft combined with the move toward 64-bit extension Xeon chipsfrom Intel and AMD’s Opteron prompted the decision.