HP drops Itanium workstations

Hewlett-Packard has stopped selling workstations based on Intel's Itanium 2 chip.

Hewlett-Packard has stopped selling workstations based on Intel's Itanium 2 chip.

Citing market conditions for the move, HP has dropped  the processor just two months after Intel started shipping the 64-bit architecture for x86 systems.

"Basically this is a response to customer requirements in the workstation business," said HP spokeswoman Kathy Sowards.

The company had been selling two Itanium workstations - the single-processor zx2000 and dual-processor zx6000 - and its decision is a setback to the processor that Intel at one point billed as a future industry standard.

In recent years, Intel executives have positioned Itanium as an alternative to the Risc processors sold by Sun and IBM. Sun, IBM and HP all continue to sell Risc-based workstations.

Intel spokeswoman Erica Fields said HP had been the only major company to sell workstations based on Itanium.

"The workstation market has never been our priority focus for Itanium," she said. "Our family of Xeon processors with Nocona and EM64T provides the best price/performance for the workstation market."

HP's decision was a further sign of the increasing dominance of PC systems at the upper end of the workstation market, said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with research firm Insight64. "What you have is this massive migration from Risc to x86 and x86 with 64-bit extensions," he said. "Now that Xeon has 64-bit capabilities, that will probably ice the cake."

Brookwood called HP's decision "a little bit of a surprise, but not a shock". He said the company had found it hard to convince suppliers of high-end workstation software to port to Itanium when there was only one major Itanium workstation supplier.

Sowards said that HP would support the Itanium workstations until 2009 and that the decision to get out of the workstation business would have no impact on HP's Itanium-based server products.  "HP continues with the successful Integrity server line," she said.

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service

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