Intel Corp. will have its Itanium coming out party on May 29 with a number of vendors launching servers and workstations, according to various industry sources.
Intel's latest processor will be the company's first foray into 64-bit systems and could help the vendor compete in the high-end server market dominated by Sun Microsystems and IBM, according to industry analysts. The chip's launch has been hindered by numerous delays; however, several hardware vendors confirmed they will quickly follow Intel's announcement by releasing hardware based on the chip.
Intel would not confirm the May 29 launch, saying only that myriad vendors would bring out both servers and workstations in the next several weeks. During that time frame, vendors would release Itanium boxes running Microsoft's Windows 2000, Hewlett-Packard's HPUX, IBM's AIX 5L and Novell operating systems, said an Intel spokeswoman. In addition, a number of Itanium systems running Linux will also be announced when the chip is launched, meeting analysts' expectations that the open source OS would be one of the lead platforms on the new processor.
Sources close to Silicon Graphics Inc (SGI) confirmed that the company will announce an Itanium workstation, running Linux, on May 29. The company then plans to follow shortly thereafter with servers using the Itanium chip and possibly several flavors of Linux. The workstation appearing at the initial launch is expected to run a version of Linux developed by TurboLinux.
Dell has also said it will come to market with PowerEdge servers and Precision workstations running on the Itanium chip. The vendor would not confirm a launch date or availability of the new products, saying only that it will be one of the first to announce a product once Intel gives the word.
IBM, Compaq, and HP are also expected to launch a variety of workstations and servers close to the announcement date.
Sun and IBM have led the 64-bit market, coupling their RISC chip technology with highly stable OSes. This combination helped the vendors attract large corporate customers, looking for powerful hardware.
While there has been much anticipation from the industry for Intel's high-powered chip, many analysts expect that Intel's second generation 64-bit processor named McKinley will be what Intel needs to compete for users on equal ground with IBM and Sun in the high-end market.
Analysts look for early adopters to buy smaller systems running Itanium first, putting the machines through trials and then move toward complete, higher-end systems later on.