Intel invokes Windows and Doors to justify the Itanium

The Q&A after the main “Tukwila” event was most enlightening. We reported on the launch of the seventh generation of the Itanium here. First.

The Intel guys, in the Q&A, said at first it ran all its fabs on the Itanium platform – it prompted a question or two in my mind. Questions that weren’t answered at all.

Everyone knows that Intel was rather reluctant to use a Microsoft “platform” to run its many fabs on – we know for a fact that Open VMS was the platform of choice because it never fell over. We didn’t for a minute think that it would switch to HP/UX because it could never do that, it is a matter of failover and the Alpha chip never fell over, nor Open VMS.

So HP is Intel’s saviour. We would not be in the least bit surprised if there is an M&A between the two any time real soon. The Intel guys said its fabs are run on the Itanium platform but there’s a bit of a problem there too.

Here’s my take on the press Q&A. We could hardly hear Don Clark from the Wall Street Journal but Intel turned the sound up for its answer.

The Intel answer was that Intel will run its fabs on the Itanium. “We know we had a few delays but we thought we’d better get this right.” Well that’s what we heard through the muffled webcast.

Some facts from the Intel representative: “The next gen (Itanium) will go directly to 32 nanometers with Poulson. We’ve had a number of Alpha customers working through this. The processor has  been relatively healthy. We added Kitson socket compatibility and we increased  the scalability. We had some customers who said they’d move from RISC to IA, so  we took an extra few months. We wouldn’t have done that if we thought it wasn’t economically viable.”

The next gen after Tukwila will be Poulson and two years after Poulson, “Kitson”.

We at TechEye ventured a question about operating systems. Apparently the Itanium runs over 10 operating systems, HP/UX, and Open VMS.

An Intel rep said: “About 85 percent on our volume is on HP/UX. Redhat will support Tukwila in Red Hat version 5.

“HP will make announcements for systems in the next 90 days. The IO hub can now scale to 72 PCI Express lanes. ICH10 is common between Itanium and Xeon. The 7500 memory buffer is also common.”

A German called Nico Ernst asked about the best bins. Intel said the best bins would be at 1.73GHz boosting to 1.86GHz on the highest bins.

We returned to our question about Open VMS and how many fabs are running using the Itanium.  The Intel rep misunderstood the question, we think. We think he thought our question was how many fabs were making the Itanium, but our question was how many fabs ran on Itaniums rather than the DEC Alpha chip.

Intel, he said,  doesn’t disclose which operating systems keeps the fabs going. So it won’t be Windows XP then, nor we suspect HP/UX. Intel said it would get back to me. I doubt it will.

Some guy asked about the delays on Tukwila, which are well documented.

Intel said the delays on Tukwila were decisions made by marketing and not problems with the silicon.

“Intel changed the entire design of Tukwila with four memory channels coming out of the processor about a year ago.” No one asked the obvious question. The obvious question is did Intel copy the Alpha DEC design, whether it was via AMD or not. No one dared ask that, because the SEC and the Justice Department might get interested and invoke the mighty swear word of the 21st Century.