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Is HP Paying Intel To Keep Itanium Alive? 216

itwbennett writes "In a court filing, Oracle accused HP of secretly contracting with Intel to keep making Itanium processors so that it can continue to make money from its locked-in Itanium customers and take business away from Oracle's Sun servers. Oracle says that Intel would have long ago killed off Itanium if not for these payments from HP. For its part, HP called the filing a 'desperate delay tactic' in the lawsuit HP filed against Oracle over its decision to stop developing for Itanium."
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Is HP Paying Intel To Keep Itanium Alive?

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  • Support (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CmdrPony ( 2505686 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:10PM (#38132108)
    I don't see what's wrong with this. HP is just making sure their existing customers are supported, even if it means making specific contracts with Intel directly. I'd be angry at HP if I bought an expensive server and they wouldn't support it.

    Maybe Oracle should come up with better and faster servers so that they can win customers on their own merits?
    • by intellitech ( 1912116 ) * on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:13PM (#38132124)

      Maybe Oracle should do something useful instead of being a massive patent troll and distributor of obnoxiously terrible software.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You sound pretty biased. You sound like someone who inherited an all Oracle shop. Sorry :P

      • Yes I agree Open office was horrible, but luckily there is this thing known as a "fork" or spoon or something and i hear its getting better. it may not have to go on the cart! Isn't that nice? Although I do think its rather ironic that you are calling One Rich Asshole Called Larry Ellison a " distributor of obnoxiously terrible software" when he is being sued by HP for NOT distributing said obnoxious terrible software.

        Personally i think BOTH companies should be told to fuck right off and quit wasting the courts time. Oracle doesn't want to make software for Itanic because its a fricking dud, its a bomb, its a stinky turd, its Vista. Who can blame them for not wanting to waste money supporting a dead end system with a dwindling customers base?

        And if HP wants to throw good money after bad getting Intel to continue work on the Itanic? Well this IS the same company that blew a billion for WebOS only to shitcan the developers and who took a giant bath on Touchpad. Nothing in the law says they can't be complete morons and do as many stupid things as they want with their money, despite that "maximize shareholder value" meme that is pushed everywhere with no actual basis in reality. hell if it were true Jerry Yang and the board of yahoo would be in prison now!

        So if this were a sane world the judge would tell HP and oracle to please go fuck right off, or at least make their CEOs duke it out bare knuckle. my money would be on Meg BTW, old Larry has got a bit of a paunch going and I have a feeling Meg would be a biter.

    • Re:Support (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shri ( 17709 ) <shriramc@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:13PM (#38132130) Homepage
      I agree with this wholeheartedly. It is a commercial agreement to prolong support and development of a component that is vital to HP's line up. Is the Itanium not available to Oracle to use in its lineup of servers?
      • Re:Support (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:58PM (#38132406)

        It's probably more that Oracle doesn't want to support Itanium anymore, but I'm guessing that so long as Itanium is viable they're stuck supporting contracts that they have with HP. HP is in the middle of suing Oracle for their declared end of support for Itanium products. If Intel continues to make Itanium at HP's behest, that might leave Oracle on the spot.

        Sucks to be Oracle's contracts department, but that's what happens when one doesn't write in a good escape clause. It probably legally doesn't really matter why Intel is still supporting the Itanium line, because I'd bet that Oracle never saw this one coming, but since Oracle is a third party to Intel and HP's business dealings as far as the contracts between the two, there's probably not a lot more than complaining that they can do.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jd ( 1658 )

          The Itanium could be a very nice processor, if they continued developing it. Although I'd suggest using a new brand name, after the total disaster of the first version. A pure 64-bit chip with no limitations due to legacy architectures has a lot of potential, potential Intel never really took advantage of. It didn't help that they never wrote a decent compiler for it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            I'd suggest using new brand name... A pure 64-bit chip with no limitations due to legacy architectures has a lot of potential, potential Intel never really took advantage of.

            I hear Alpha AXP's not being used...

          • Re:Support (Score:5, Informative)

            by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @01:30AM (#38132798) Journal

            Question: How EXACTLY could the Itanic have been a very nice processor? Because everything i've read about the thing boils down to the entire arch was built so that it required this mythical "super compiler" that could optimize the code much better than even doing it by hand to constantly keep the long pipes fed and Intel didn't bother to actually HAVE such a compiler before shipping and in fact was never able to produce one. this of course was followed by AMD wisely capitalizing on its competitor's mistake and going for X64, thus taking out the last major selling point of Itanic which was the 64 bit registers and memory addresses (without having to use hacks like PAE that is).

            So from where i'm sitting it looked like another Netburst, doomed from the start. Even the wiki [wikipedia.org] says "Only a few thousand systems using the original Merced Itanium processor were sold, due to relatively poor performance, high cost and limited software availability." So right out the gate you had a chip that cost too much, delivered too little, and of course by abandoning X86 really didn't have squat to run on it. i honestly don't see how a chip that comes limping out the gate like that could be anything BUT a dead end.

            If it would have delivered the performance (Athlon64, Core) or been revolutionary in price per watt or in price period (ARM) then i could agree with you. but at least from where I'm sitting Itanic was Intel's way of trying to get everyone on the planet to throw out their systems and start all over again, while at the same time being able to lock competition in the way of AMD out of the market and it failed. Given that we would be looking most likely at an Intel only world right now if it hadn't i think we should be grateful its toast.

            • Re:Support (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Anthony Mouse ( 1927662 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @02:52AM (#38133096)

              I hate to start any conspiracy theories, but look at it from Intel's perspective. Intel likes a good skunkworks project. Try something new, if it pans out you make a mint, if not, well, cost of doing business. Take the tax deduction. (Incidentally, that is where the Core architecture came from. Israeli design team making improvements to the old P6, never expecting to need it outside of maybe laptops.)

              So they come up with this crazy VLIW idea and realize it will cost a ton of money. At the same time, they can convince HP to transition away from their existing RISC architectures (PA-RISC and Alpha) and in so doing get them to pay a big chunk of the R&D costs. Then, if it works out, great! Intel is now the sole supplier of Itanium chips for HP's high end servers. And if it fails, great! Two more non-Intel RISC architectures dead and out of competition with x86, and Intel gets HP to pay half the cost of their own execution.

              And at that point, once Intel is in the position where success or failure doesn't matter to them because they sell the same number of chips whether they're Itanium or x86, success becomes the more expensive option. Why keep developing new models of Itanic when you've already got a Xeon that is better in every significant way?

              • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

                The problems with IA64 were many, but the biggest one was closed source software... IA64 makes a very good Linux box, running an entirely open source stack but few if any closed source applications were ever ported to the platform.

                Another problem was Intel making their own compiler instead of improving gcc, since the vast majority of software capable of running on ia64 is open source and most of that is generally (and sometimes can only be) compiled with gcc.

                • Re:Support (Score:5, Interesting)

                  by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:06AM (#38134152) Journal

                  Another problem was Intel making their own compiler instead of improving gcc

                  Intel did improve GCC, although GCC at the time of the Itanium release was completely useless at optimisation. Modern GCC is still a joke at optimisation compared even to something like Open64, and Itanium needs more effort than any other target architecture, yet gets far less manpower because no one cares about it. LLVM dropped the Itanium back end a few months ago because no one wanted to maintain it (and the few people who might have been vaguely interested didn't have access to the hardware).

              • Re:Support (Score:5, Informative)

                by Guy Harris ( 3803 ) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:03AM (#38133560)

                So they come up with this crazy VLIW idea

                Who's "they"? Intel, or HP [hp.com]?

                and realize it will cost a ton of money.

                Which, as I understand it, is why HP partnered with Intel (not the other way around).

                At the same time, they can convince HP to transition away from their existing RISC architectures (PA-RISC

                Which, as I understand it, was HP's intent even before they got Intel involved.

                and Alpha)

                Which was, at the time the HP-Intel partnership was announced, DEC's RISC architecture - DEC hadn't even been bought by Compaq yet, much less Compaq bought by HP.

              • Intel didn't 'come up with this crazy VLIW idea'. Itanium was the second VLIW x86-killer from Intel [wikipedia.org]. Someone senior at Intel in the late '80s to '90s seemed to have been absolutely convinced that VLIW was the future. Probably a hardware person, since hardware people always seem convinced that any problem can be fixed by more complex software (software people, in contrast, know that problems can always be solved by more hardware).

                If they weren't convinced that IA64 would succeed, they'd have made their

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by the_olo ( 160789 )

              ..., due to relatively poor performance, high cost and limited software availability.

              Poor performance, high cost? That sounds exactly like systems that big business love the best (judging from looking around me).

            • Requiem Itanium: the clock won't ramp.

              Itanium predates AMD64 and was one way out of the 4GB limit. PAE and AMD64 were two others. That the clock would never ramp was provable in 2004, but by then it was too late. The promises were already made. Now we've got this immense chip that sucks watts, runs slow, but is very reliable. It will see two more revs before it goes into the dark - and a new enterprise CPU architecture will take its place.

            • Look at how it works in the "Poulson" core. The need for high compiler optimization is gone and it works in a similar manner to any other in-order processor.
            • Re:Support (Score:4, Interesting)

              by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak.yahoo@com> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @03:48AM (#38133318) Homepage Journal

              Intel was quite capable of writing a compiler for it, they chose not to write one that was any good. Make no mistake, it WAS a choice. Their software divisions (they have many) are a mess, their contractor rates are terrible and the politics are cruddy. However, these are all fixable. Now that Intel owns the CILK++ code, they have a better chance than ever of doing it right -- if they can be bothered. Compilers aren't rocket science.

              As for the original Itanic - they could have made the Itanium 2 from the get go. Again, they chose not to, for political reasons likely. Again, it was a choice. The new Itanium, the Itanium 9300, actually looks like a credible contender for HPC - again, if they get the compiler right.

          • A pure 64-bit chip with no limitations due to legacy architectures has a lot of potential

            And it's called AMD64. The x86 support is almost literally glued onto Hammer, let alone anything later. Every modern x86 CPU since the Am586 decomposes x86 instructions into micro-ops which are executed by an internally-RISCy core.

            • by jd ( 1658 )

              The AMD64 has 16 64-bit registers, which is merely a logical next step from the 8 32-bit registers of the prior generation. According to Wikipedia: AMD64 still has fewer registers than many common RISC ISAs (which typically have 32–64 registers) or VLIW-like machines such as the IA-64 (which has 128 registers). The "no execute bit" is new with the AMD64, but none of the other underlying components seem to be anything more than basic upgrades. Long mode is just a flat address table and you've been able

              • The AMD64 has 16 64-bit registers, which is merely a logical next step from the 8 32-bit registers of the prior generation. According to Wikipedia: AMD64 still has fewer registers than many common RISC ISAs (which typically have 32–64 registers)

                Except for one rather common RISC ISA, but that one's mainly used in stuff like mobile phones, not Big Honking Servers (although with ARM64 they're at least thinking about servers - it might be more "tons of blade processors" than "a smaller number of Big Honking Processor Engines", though).

                TheAMD64 is not a "pure" 64-bit chip. It is a chip that operates in 64-bits but has an internal architecture that has not significantly changed since the days of the 4040.

                Internal architecture, not instruction-set architecture? If you truly mean "internal architecture" in the sense of "implementation of the instruction set", do you really mean to say that a superscalar out-of-order pipe

              • TheAMD64 is not a "pure" 64-bit chip. It is a chip that operates in 64-bits but has an internal architecture that has not significantly changed since the days of the 4040

                Wow, so in one article you've shown that you know nothing about compilers or architecture. A few 'insignificant' changes since the 4004 that are present in any modern x86 CPU.

                • Microcoding.
                • Pipelining.
                • Superscalar architecture (i.e. multiple parallel pipelines).
                • Caches.
                • Branch prediction.
                • Out-of-order execution.

                Of course none of those are engineering...

        • HP and Intel don't want to support Itanium either. But if they start breaking their promises with these customers, their name is mud. Oracle doesn't seem to have a problem with that, but HP and Intel do.
    • Re:Support (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:13PM (#38132132)

      I completely agree. Itanium was a boondoggle years before it shipped. But if you were stupid enough to buy into all the marketing, at least HP hasn't just abandoned you. Better to have the choice to leave than to be pushed off. Besides, nowadays the Itaniums suck much less than the first couple of generations did.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There is one area where the Itanium has shined: VMS

        Once Alpha had reached endgame, The Itanium filled the gap.

        X86 systems just do not have the I/O bandwidth needed for VMS applications.

        And HP is contractually bound to support VMS and Oracle is bound to support RDBMS installations.

        By attacking Itanium, they attack VMS and in turn RDBMS.

      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @12:15AM (#38132476)

        No, you'd never want it in a desktop, much though Intel hoped that would be where it went, but there is something to be said for what it can do in ultra high end servers with a ton of CPUs.

        What you want for a CPU for a bigass compute server isn't always what you want for a desktop. Hell you can see that even with Sun's new Ultrasparcs. Different from both the x86 and Itanium, they are all about tons o' threads. They offer up to 8 threads in hardware per core on the newer ones. Such a thing would be totally useless on a desktop, a waste of silicon. However on, say, a web server such a thing could be very useful.

        Itanium isn't the One True Way(tm) for processors, but they are useful for somethings, which is part of the reason HP likes them.

        • No, you'd never want it in a desktop, much though Intel hoped that would be where it went, but there is something to be said for what it can do in ultra high end servers with a ton of CPUs.

          For the cost savings of going to basically anything you can get at least twice as many cores and you can blow itanic out of the water with an ice cube, it doesn't take a berg.

          Itanium isn't the One True Way(tm) for processors, but they are useful for somethings, which is part of the reason HP likes them.

          HP likes them because they are expensive and they can mark them up a lot. But nobody actually wants them. People took them because they were forced into upgrades involving them. Yuba college has an 8-way itanic because it was the ONLY available upgrade path for their student records system which was formerly on an Alpha. It's massive o

        • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

          Itanium in its earlier incarnations were actually pretty poor for large multi processor servers too, in that the multi processor support used a shared bus architecture... Shared bus doesn't scale very far, so makers of very large servers have to develop their own glue logic to connect many processors together.

    • by afabbro ( 33948 )
      What is wrong with a software publisher saying they will stop supporting a hardware platform in a future release? Redhat and Microsoft also dropped support for Itanium.
      • Re:Support (Score:5, Informative)

        by Lord_Jeremy ( 1612839 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:25PM (#38132198)
        HP's lawsuit against Oracle was that Oracle had agreed under contract to support the Itanium architecture for a certain period of time. It's the breach of contract that is the problem.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Unfortunately, Oracle claims that no such contract exist and it has publicly challenged HP to produce such a contract and HP has so far refused to take up the challenge. So far HP has not given any credible evidence that analyst believes is valid and its stock price reflects this view.

          • by jd ( 1658 )

            Yes, but producing the contract would make Oracle back down, which is profitless. Getting into a lawsuit and winning would be worth a lot of money.

          • There's always promissory estoppel.

            Did Oracle let HP rely on any implications?

        • Re:Support (Score:5, Insightful)

          by pjr.cc ( 760528 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @12:26AM (#38132524)

          Aside from the fact that the flow-on consequence is that oracle then needs to develop the ia64 oracle side - I still cant see why oracle think this is something worth even mentioning.

          HP paid intel to keep making a chip HP uses - OH FOR SHAME! Or is the big thing about it the "secret" bit cause well, contracts like that do tend to be rather "sensitive".

          But "oracle whinges cause HP tries to keep its IA64 customer base from moving to oracle servers" just sounds kinda ridiculous. Even reading the article is really not helping me get the problem oracle are trying to get at here. It reads like:

          Oracle to HP: We would like to steal your customers please
          HP to Oracle: Um, no thanks?
          Oracle to HP: HAH, NO ITANIUM FOR YOU!
          HP to Oracle: im sorry, but see this piece of paper says you cant do that

          Meanwhile at the HP cave:
          HP to Intel: heres some cash to continue IA64 development work
          Intel to HP: Sure, no problem, we'll make silicon for you, we do that.

          Meanwhile back at the Oracle Cave:
          *much thumb sucking ensues*

          Now if HP had pain intel to stop making the IA64 to gimp dell (or someone else) for instance, then sure thats worth mentioning.

      • In this case Oracle had a contract to continue that support. They violated that contract. Red Hat and Microsoft didn't have such contract, so there's nothing wrong with them dropping support.
        • Re:Support (Score:5, Interesting)

          by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @01:42AM (#38132828) Journal

          But to quote the great and powerful Chewbacca defense 'it makes NO sense!" If HP DID have such a contract, why not produce it when their stock started to nosedive? showing the world it had old larry by the nuts and was suing him would have caused the stock to CLIMB yes? And if oracle DID sign such a contract why even go into court knowing all HP has to do is produce the contract and that's their ass? it makes NO sense!

          The ONLY way i can see this making sense is if HP has NO contract like that with oracle and they are on the hook with supporting itanium. Then lying their asses off and stretching it out in court makes perfect sense as they are trying to keep from getting sued by those people who were sold these supercomputers that aren't gonna be able to run dick when oracle walks away.

          If someone else can explain how it makes sense any other way please do, but I've been scratching my noggin over this for the past half hour and it just doesn't add up the other way, at least not for me.

        • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

          Interestingly, Microsoft used to have a contract with DEC/Compaq/HP to continue producing Windows for Alpha, and for the "server" platform to be at parity with versions for other architectures... Compaq let them off the leash when they decided to drop Alpha.

      • Re:Support (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:31PM (#38132252)

        What is wrong with a software publisher saying they will stop supporting a hardware platform in a future release? Redhat and Microsoft also dropped support for Itanium.

        They are not just a software publisher. They have near monopoly levels of control on the big-iron database market and they are using it to leverage their otherwise anemic hardware platform. Whether that rises to the level of "tying" that is considered anti-competitive is for the courts to determine.

        • Re:Support (Score:5, Interesting)

          by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:59PM (#38132408)

          no monopoly, plenty of other big-iron databases besides Oracle around. DB2 is the real big-iron database, costs less, scales bigger (on Unix to over 100 servers, on mainframes to 32 data sharing groups, each one can be made of multiple MVS systems), performs better

          • Re:Support (Score:5, Funny)

            by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @01:05AM (#38132698)

            DB2 is the best big-iron database, and MS-SQL is the best big-iron database for people who don't really like databases.

            I guess that leaves Oracle as the database for people who like databases, but not too much. The Mitsubishi Lancer of databases, as it were.

      • Re:Support (Score:4, Insightful)

        by the linux geek ( 799780 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:33PM (#38132264)
        Microsoft and Red Hat had negligible market share on Itanium. Most VMS and HP-UX customers run Oracle products, and Oracle is a direct competitor for servers and operating systems with HP. The whole thing looks wildly anticompetitive.
        • Precisely how is this anticompetitive? It might screw over Oracle's ability to sell these companies new hardware, but ultimately this is market forces in action. IBM has found it to be more profitable to pay Intel to continue producing the chips that it needs in order to maintain those computers so that the contracts can continue to their completion. And if there aren't any contracts in play, then I'm not sure why it is that Oracle can't do something similar. I'm not sure I see how this is any different fro

    • by emil ( 695 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:39PM (#38132306)

      ...and Itanium is the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

      I'm not sure what sort of Faustian Bargain HP made with Intel over Itanium, but it certainly had nothing to do with quality products or customer service.

      Anyone sane bolted for Linux long ago.

      • by jd ( 1658 )

        Linux supports the Itanium. Linux supports the VAX. You can probably find a Linux port for the intelligent toaster from Red Dwarf.

        • You can probably find a Linux port for a commercially-available toaster, too.

        • I think the point is that once you're on Linux, you aren't tied to any particular architecture. Which causes you to choose not-Itanium as your architecture.

          • by jd ( 1658 )

            If you want high-end processing, you can do more with the Itanium than you can with the X64 architecture.

    • by Ossifer ( 703813 )

      Maybe HP shouldn't act fraudulently in signing contracts?

    • Re:Support (Score:4, Informative)

      by dogsbreath ( 730413 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @01:01AM (#38132678)

      I guess Oracle in their infinite wisdom have decided that a processor in a very marginal market is the reason Sun hardware sales are dying/dead, and not the fact that the Sun line is a choice between Intel (available from everyone) or Sparc (either slow and questionable performance, or power / rack space hungry ).

      Considering it is actually Xeons, x86, and IBM hardware in the virtualization space that is the main market now, I don't see how this legal sidebar with HP does Oracle any benefit.

    • It's not about better and faster servers, it's about Oracle no longer selling their database software products for Itanium. Given your arguments, Oracle has every right to stop selling their software to run on competitors systems.

      For some reason, HP seems to think there are contracts obliging Oracle to keep selling and supporting their database software products for Itanium and Oracle seems to think they have no obligation, since Itanium would be dead and buried if HP wasn't secretly paying Intel money t
  • What do you call customers on an Oracle system? Locked out? :)
  • Que? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:14PM (#38132138)

    Since when are companies not allowed to pay each other for services?

    HP is contracting chip production and development out to Intel.

    So what? Who is harmed?

    • by Zan Lynx ( 87672 )
      Just guessing here, but maybe Oracle has contracts that force them to continue to support software on Itanium systems as long as the hardware is being supported? This might be Oracle trying to weasel out of some contracts.
      • It's entirely probable that the terms of the contract contain an escape clause if the platform is discontinued. However it's unlikely that the terms of the agreement stipulated that IBM couldn't pay Intel to continue manufacturing the chips.

        Ultimately, if Oracle wins the suit that would be very bad indeed as companies should be allowed to pay for products to be continued indefinitely. The big concern with antitrust law would typically be for companies to pay other companies not to produce chips or to lock t

    • Re:Que? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:28PM (#38132232)

      Yeah, I don't get it. I don't see how Oracle could make an anti-trust case out of this, as obviously there's no monopoly (or anything approaching one) in the space they're operating in (high-end non-x86 servers, basically the space between mainframes and regular x86-64 servers). If HP wants to pay Intel to keep making those crappy chips, why shouldn't Intel take the money and do so, as long as this makes up for whatever they lose by not using those resources elsewhere (like making their regular chips)?

      As for harm, obviously, Oracle is harmed by this since this keeps them from monopolizing this market, but too bad so sad.

  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:23PM (#38132184) Journal

    "...take business away from Oracle's Sun servers."

    Trust me Oracle, the only company that's having the slightest negative impact on your server sales is...Oracle.

    Solaris 11 shipped last week. They added code to prevent it from running on the UltraSparc processors. Thanks assholes.

  • Contract fab? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phil reed ( 626 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:26PM (#38132210) Homepage

    So, HP has a processor that they use a contract fab to build. It's just that in this case the fab belongs to Intel. Big whoop.

  • In other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anubis350 ( 772791 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:27PM (#38132222)
    "Oracle says that Intel would have long ago killed off Itanium if not for these payments from HP"

    In other news most companies will kill products that don't have paying customers. HP is paying to make sure their supply chain stays open to support their customers, Intel has a customer for Itanium so they're maintaining production of the product. Oracle's a whiny brat who's pissed that customers that still have support on their older stuff have less of an incentive to change providers... If Oracle can't give them a compelling reason to leave that isn't "your old stuff isn't supported anymore 'cause we sued intel to stop support for your hardware" I don't have much sympathy for Oracle
  • I am thinking Intel should sell the Itanium division back to HP once they are sure no other vendors are using it.

  • A few things... (Score:5, Informative)

    by the linux geek ( 799780 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:43PM (#38132322)
    First off, the notion that Itanium is "dying" is ridiculous - or at least just as ridiculous as the idea that SPARC is dying. Power is the only high-end RISC processor that's really thriving. Both IA64 and SPARC bring in hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter, although their revnue is slowly dwindling:

    http://smarterquestions.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/UNIX_Revenue_08-2011.png [smarterquestions.org]

    Second, comparing Oracle suddenly killing support to Microsoft and Red Hat killing support is ridiculous. Red Hat is continuing to develop the 5.x tree for IA64, despite the fact that maybe 5% of Itanium customers ran RHEL. Oracle, on the other hand, is just suddenly saying "No more. Nada." despite the fact that they build key apps for all three HP Itanium operating systems (Rdb for VMS, Oracle for HP-UX, Tuxedo for Nonstop.) There's also the fact that Oracle has its own competing UNIX OS and processor, one that hasn't performed particularly well in comparison to Power or Itanium for several years. The whole thing just looks like Oracle is being a bully.
    • They've never been big in the ultra high end market. The area where they do tend to have stuff, well x64 has been making a big entrance there. These days you can get an x64 system with 2TB of memory and that really tends to do the trick for large databases, which is one of the main ultra high end markets you see MS in (MSSQL is a serious contender as a high end DB server).

      These days, most things aren't going with one ultra high end system, they are going with a cluster of regular systems. Those clusters are

      • by bmo ( 77928 )


        Excuse me?

        Windows on Itanium is being EOLed.

        http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2010/04/microsoft-its-the-end-of-the-line-for-itanium-support.ars [arstechnica.com]

        Microsoft: it's the end of the line for Itanium support
        By Peter Bright | Published about a year ago

        Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008 R2, and Visual Studio 2010 will represent the last versions to support Intel's Itanium architecture, Microsoft has announced on its Windows Server blog. Mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 R2 wil

        • You didn't real the comment. Especially the part where he said "Also it isn't as though MS is dropping Itanium on the floor. They are just not going to support it in their next server OS. You can get Server 2008R2 for Itanium and that'll be supported until 7/10/2018 minimum (they've extended support dates before, but never shortened them). So they are keeping support on going, just announcing it is coming to an end so you've time to plan."
          • by bmo ( 77928 )


            For reals. Migrating off of one system to another takes time. You don't play fucking games. Microsoft knows this. That's why they gave everybody enough warning.

            I read the message. The GP is trying to convince people to buy Windows for Itanium, when Windows for Itanium is a DEAD END.

            It is irresponsible, and frankly, an insult to the intelligence of potential customers.


    • Re:A few things... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by shentino ( 1139071 ) <shentino@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @02:21AM (#38132954)

      Oracle's naysaying about Itanium is nothing more than FUD intended to undermine confidence in a platform relied upon by one of their competitors.

  • Uh, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:47PM (#38132348)
    While it obviously sucks that people continue using old software on crappy systems because they can't afford to switch to something else, that's just the way it goes. Oracle, do you really think that if you sue HP/Intel and break up their business relationship, the resulting guys who are left out in the cold will switch over to, of all providers, the provider that resulted in them getting fucked over? Seriously?
    • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

      Itanium is far from crappy, it's a much better architecture than x86 for transaction processing. People use old software because it works. If you were a medium sized company that spent $10 million on a custom ERP, why would you spend another $10 million every few years to do it all over again? Then you get to train everyone and work through the kinks and bugs again... Most companies just want to use what works.

      • by afabbro ( 33948 )

        Itanium is far from crappy,

        True, but...

        it's a much better architecture than x86 for transaction processing.

        ...false. You cite ERP as an example but that is exactly what Itanium is not special at. For business apps and database apps, Itanium is not really any more exciting than Sparc or POWER (and is not as good as POWER). For that matter, it's not any more exciting than x86.

        Itanium has lots of 64-bit registers, so if you're doing engineering, science, chess computers, etc. and write Itanium assembler (or have a good compiler), Itanium rocks. But for business apps like ERP, CRM, general databases,

  • by mschaffer ( 97223 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:58PM (#38132404)

    In 2002 Sun alleges that people don't buy their product because too many people choose to use Microsoft.
    In 2011 Oracle alleges that people don't buy their product because too many people choose to use Itanium.

    Lame, lame, lame.
    Is McNealey now working at Oracle?

  • The Trillian Project : Proof of SCO's actions [lwn.net]

    In February 1998, well before even the first prototype IA-64 chips were available, a skunkworks team at HP, with some assistance from Intel, began the work toward porting Linux to IA-64. By October 1998,around the same time that IBM, Old SCO and Sequent had finished negotiations, HP had completed the build toolchain. By January 1999, the Linux kernel was booting on an IA-64 processor simulator, months before the actual Itanium processor was available. In March 1999, at Intel, Linux was booting on the actual Intel Itanium processor.

    The SCO Group (then Caldera) which had purchased the rights to sell copies of the old Unix from Novell, sued IBM because the freely available Linux competed the SCO Groups old Unix offering.

    So Oracle has become the next SCO Group, quick somebody tell PJ!

  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @12:23AM (#38132512)

    That's funny. Not to long ago Oracle stated [oracle.com] that they have proof that Intel was killing Itanium and that HP was harming their own customers by not admitting it. Now they say that the exact opposite is true; that HP is paying to ensure that Itanium stays alive. Either this change occurred after Oracle dropped their support for Itanium (unlikely), or Oracle just admitted that they have been printing libelous statements about HP, in addition to breaking their contract with them.

    I hope the assholes pay for both.

  • Itanium is very little more than PA-RISC64. The people who needed it didn't know they wanted it and when AMD x86-64 came out they ignored Itanium and SPARC to their peril. As a result, performance has suffered dearly. PA-RISC64 and SPARC64 are the true multiprocessing performers. Intel Xeon and Pentium represent at least one decade-worth of performance setbacks when it comes to multiprocessing performance.

    But, Linux runs great on x86-64, so why bother with high performance? Too bad. We still struggle

    • The people who needed it didn't know they wanted it and when AMD x86-64 came out they ignored Itanium and SPARC to their peril. As a result, performance has suffered dearly

      Not every field needs massive numbers of threads. In my field, uniprocessor performance is more important for many tools. I remember very clearly when in the early 2000's a cheap Xeon processor-based box outperformed the fastest Sun boxes we could get. Why buy an expensive Sun when cheap x86 boxes will outperform it?

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @12:37AM (#38132572) Homepage

    Itanium was a joint Intel-HP project, remember? HP might well pay Intel to keep it alive.

    The idea behind Itanium was that it had lots of new, different, patentable technology, so Intel didn't have to worry about clones. The problem was that it wasn't better technology. Just different.

    Classic bad CPU architecture ideas of the "build it and they will come" variety:

    • "Hey, let's build a machine with lots of little CPUs that don't share memory and intercommunicate via I/O!" Examples are the nCube, the Connection Machine, and the Cell processor. There's no problem building such machines, but chopping the problem up into communicating bite-sized pieces is very tough, and very closely tied to the specific hardware.
    • "Hey, let's build a Very Long Instruction Word machine so we can run several instructions at once!". A success for some signal processing chips, but general purpose CPUs based on VLIW technology, the i860 and the Itanium, didn't do so well. Intel tried to deny that the Itanium was a VLIW machine, but it is. Optimizing compilers for such machines are very hard. (I met the HP guys trying to do the Itanium compiler once. It was not going well.)
    • "Hey, let's build a shared-memory multiprocessor with non-synchronized caches!" This has been tried a few times. The usual result is software race conditions which are very tough to find, and an extremely painful programming model.

    In the spectrum of concurrency, shared-memory mulitprocessors with synchronized caches work, and clusters of powerful machines which communicate over networks work. Those are the extremes of the concurrency range. With the notable exception of graphics processors, no machine in the middle of that range has been a success. Such machines can be built, but are so hard to program they're always behind the classical architectures. The Cell in the PS/3 is the only example ever deployed in volume, and that nearly killed Sony.

    • AMD's 64-bit extensions arguably weren't a better technology either; they just happened to be in the right place at the right time, with a solution that maintained backward compatibility with the existing x86 code base. This, more than anything else, is what kept Itanium from ever gaining traction outside of a few niche server platforms -- when Intel caved and adopted AMD's 64-bit extensions, that was the final nail in Itanium's coffin.

      I hesitate to call the i860 VLIW. Yes, it could fetch and execute an int

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JDG1980 ( 2438906 )

        AMD's 64-bit extensions arguably weren't a better technology either; they just happened to be in the right place at the right time, with a solution that maintained backward compatibility with the existing x86 code base

        AMD's 64-bit extensions were a better technology because they maintained backward compatibility. You can't just write off this very important real-world consideration as if it were meaningless.

    • by iamacat ( 583406 )

      This thinking risks making CPUs a commodity, a must have to build a computer but exact specification secondary to GPU and other hardware. Now is the time for Intel to wake up and apply GPU-like technologies to new areas like database queries, or lose the future to AMD, NVIDIA or any newcomer that comes along. Not that deemphasizing x86 would be a bad thing for the industry.

  • I don't see how HP contracting with Intel to continue Itanium support is a problem. Nor do I see Oracle deciding to stop supporting Itanium as lawsuit-worthy either. Both companies need to stop slinging stupid lawsuits at each other, and refocus on producing computer hardware and software. It is sad that business success in the tech industry is now measured by who has the bigger team of lawyers, not by who has the best engineers.
  • by attemptedgoalie ( 634133 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @02:18AM (#38132940)

    I'm in the power industry. We have some applications that are only built in Solaris, HP-UX or AIX due to the underlying Cobol code, etc.

    If we want to maintain certain regs, or have access to certain markets, we have to keep this particular app.

    The day Oracle crapped on Itanium, we had to get HP in to tell us what the plan was as it would take us a few years to migrate to AIX if HP was really dumping it. (there is no way in hell we're running Oracle on a (now) Oracle operating system). Talk about vendor lock in. Woof.

    Since then, I have been provided HP-UX and Itanium roadmaps for a ways out. (under NDA so no more details than that)

    If Oracle wins on this, and really does dump UX, then I need to bring a bunch of AIX gear in and put a team of developers to work porting our custom code which means no optimization, no rewrites, no efficiency. All of our work to improve security, and kill off bugs will be wasted as we get it barely working in a new environment before we lose support. Just in case we get a nuclear project, etc.

    The thought of training hundreds of people in a new system at multiple power plants and dozens of substations alone makes me nauseous. But if we screw up the migration process and wreck compliance, we could be out of business as the fines are incredible.

    I'll bet half of this could have been avoided if when Hurd was found screwing around at HP, they could have just had him executed. Then he wouldn't be at Oracle and probably influencing this situation quite a bit.

  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @03:21AM (#38133220)

    As far as I understand, customers always pay companies to keep product alive. Are they saying HP pays more per CPU than the price of a single order in retail? My bet is on a significant volume discount.

  • ...Is that there was some way that all corporations involved in this thing could suffer irreparable harm from this.
  • by bored ( 40072 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @01:38PM (#38138054)

    Still hasn't started transitioning their HP-UX, Nonstop, etc customers to something else. It generally takes a generation or two before all the lagards get on board a new arch. Heck, HP was still selling PA-RISC machines a couple years ago, long past the point where it was apparent the itanic was a dead end.

    It seems that HP is intended to keep forcing intel to make the itanium forever, but they have to have a fallback plan. The question is, does HP want to pay for full development of a chip so complex it takes 10x the manpower to design for, or are they going to bring back something like PA-RISC or Alpha that goes fast, without to much effort. Their only other alternatives seem to be jumping on the x86 or POWER bandwagon. I might included sparc, but outside of fujitsu, that seems pretty dead too.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson