Intel’s long-awaited Itanium 64-bit processor is due for release this week, months before Microsoft will have an operating system ready to run on it.
Microsoft New Zealand Windows platform spokesman Jay Templeton says it will be at least October before Windows XP for the Itanium will be launched.
“We will be shipping Windows XP in three formats — 32-bit home and professional and a 64-bit version that will be sold only with Itanium machines,” says Templeton. He says while the chip itself may be released in May, OEMs won’t be able to ship to customers until 64-bit Windows XP is available.
“I haven’t seen any documentation on it but I can’t see it being otherwise.”
Itanium is aimed at the market segment above Intel’s existing 32-bit Xeon processor, although Compaq product manager Jeff Healey says there will be some overlap in the early days between high-end 32-bit processors and Itanium.
“The 32-bit road map is still progressing and at the beginning there will be some crossover between the two.”
Neither Intel nor Itanium development partner Hewlett-Packard would comment on the release dates for the Itanium.
“The Americans get very touchy about these things,” says Intel New Zealand spokesman Colin Purkis. “They have laws against forward-looking statements over there.”
Itanium is targeted at users who need high-availability servers with low downtime. While it’s causing some excitement in developers’ circles, its target market is adopting a wait-and-see approach.
“We’re decommissioning our last Alpha now and are sticking with Compaq servers rather than choosing a particular architecture, “ says a local government IT manager who didn’t want to be named. Alpha is Compaq’s existing 64-bit system that focuses on the Unix market.
Compaq’s Alpha product manager, Tony Vine, says Itanium is quite a different product.
“Alpha is for high-availability, business- critical applications for medium to large organisations.”