"In a very real sense, HP has moved the company behind IA-64," said Richard DeMillo, HP vice president and chief technology officer, in a speech at the HP World conference. "I would hesitate to say we bet the company on it, but if truth be told, we have put a huge bet behind IA-64."
HP engineers worked closely with Intel to develop Itanium, which will be offered by a variety of vendors in servers designed to compete with more established and more expensive proprietary Unix systems from the likes of Sun Microsystems. Itanium systems began rolling out earlier this year and analysts have said they expect demand to pick up gradually over the coming year.
Itanium is the topic of the moment for HP and its customers. In contrast to Intel's previous 32-bit processors, Itanium processes data in chunks that are 64-bits wide, making it better suited for running large, enterprise-class applications.
HP announced technologies which could help make its Itanium bet pay off. One is a version of Linux, developed in-house, designed to offer enhanced security features for customers that deal with particularly sensitive data. Linux is one of the operating systems that will be offered on Itanium systems, along with Microsoft Windows and various flavours of Unix.
In addition, DeMillo disclosed details of HP's secure platform architecture, technology intended to minimise the impact of hardware and software bugs in Itanium servers that will be made available to customers in the second quarter next year.
DeMillo claimed the new technology will be able to identify bugs or system errors at an early stage and help prevent those bugs from affecting other parts of the server, including the processor itself and any software the server might be running.