Hewlett-Packard plans to offer Itanium-based products for companies of all sizes.
HP said clusters of 32-bit Xeon servers would not be able to cope with the demands of large datacentres, arguing that Itanium is essential to achieve improvements in performance in its products.
One of the main drawbacks of a Xeon server is the limit on the amount of memory it can use, according to Frank Baetke, who works in HP's high-performance computing division.
Even with Intel's extended memory technology, users can only directly access 1Gbyte of memory on a Xeon server, compared to 500Gbytes on Itanium systems.
This could prove more important as users start running server-based applications that are able to take advantage of more memory in order to boost performance.
Farhad Ghoreishis, EMEA Integrity marketing manager at HP, expects users to start migrating from Xeon next year and most servers to be Itanium-based by 2009. He said Itanium was already offering 1.5 to 2.5 times the performance of Xeon and, as prices fall, the cost argument for deploying a 32-bit Xeon system over a 64-bit Itanium server would disappear.