High RISC Strategy
According to Smith, more than 2,100 software applications and tools are now available for Itanium. That number almost doubled this past year and has made it possible to purchase servers ranging from uniprocessor to 512-processor systems from the likes of HP, Hitachi, IBM, Samsung, SGI, Bull, Dell, Fujitsu, Fujitsu Siemens, Kraftway, Lenovo, NEC, Maxdata, Optimus, and Unisys.
HP, for example, currently offers uniprocessor to 128-processor Itanium-2-powered systems in its Integrity server line. Although the company intends to use x86 processors from Intel and AMD for less demanding server workloads, it has already earmarked Itanium 2 to replace RISC processors in its NonStop server line.
HP’s director of server marketing Vish Mulchand said RISC is being phased out of NonStop. It will be supported for a number of years, but the current RISC generation is the end of the line. Starting some time in 2005, NonStop will be available on Itanium 2, and that’s where all new engineering investment is going.
RISC, after all, came out in 1986. At the time, it was state-of-the-art technology; nowadays it is struggling to compete. Mulchand feels the time is right for change.
“You get much lower cost at better performance on Itanium 2 compared to RISC,” said Mulchand. “With the high cost of processor manufacturing facilities, it is difficult to sustain the RISC model. That’s why we are planning to gradually move to industry standard architectures, such as Itanium 2.”