November 9, 2012
On Tuesday November 8, after more than a year of pre-announcement disclosures that eventually left very little to the imagination, Intel finally announced the Itanium 9500, formerly known as Poulson. Added to this was the big surprise of HP announcing a refresh of its current line of Integrity servers, from blades to the large Superdome servers, with the new Itanium 9500.
As noted in an earlier post, the Itanium 9500 offers considerable performance improvements over its predecessors, and instantiated in HP’s new Integrity line it is positioned as delivering between 2X and 3X the performance per socket as previous Itanium 9300 (Tukwilla) systems at approximately the same price. For those remaining committed to Itanium and its attendant OS platforms, notably HP-UX, this is unmitigated good news. The fly in the ointment (I have never seen a fly in any ointment, but it does sound gross), of course, is HP’s dispute with Oracle. Despite the initial judgment in HP’s favor, the trial is a) not over yet, and b) Oracle has already filed for an early appeal of the initial verdict, which would ordinarily have to wait until the second phase of the trial, scheduled for next year, to finish. The net takeaway is that Oracle’s future availability on Itanium and HP-UX is not yet assured, so we really cannot advise the large number of Oracle users who will require Oracle 12 and later versions to relax yet.
However, those Itanium users who do not depend on the vagaries of the legal battle between Oracle and HP have received a very nice Christmas present. With the availability of a seamless upgrade that can double or more their performance and the renewed commitment of at least one (and I still believe that barring an artificial splitting of Kittson, the final) additional iteration of Itanium, these users have a worry-free path past the end of the decade, based on an assumption of a Kittson release in late 2015 and a useful life of at least five to seven years for those systems. For these users an upgrade to the newer Itanium 9500-based systems is probably the path of least risk, disruption, and cost compared to a migration. A decade is a long time in technology to re-evaluate or plan an eventual migration.
Intel also previewed the common modular architecture development that it will be employing to minimize cost of future Itanium development with the implication that it can continue to churn out additional Itanium CPUs at low cost. Given the disclosures of HP’s financial arrangements with Intel, I suspect the single predictive variable will be whether HP decides to continue to pay Intel for future development, but that is information that neither party will disclose outside the discovery process of a lawsuit. Too bad — the predictability would be nice.
So what, if anything, does this do for your plans regarding HP-UX and Itanium?