Oracle U-turn over support for Intel Itanium servers

By Graeme Burton
05 Sep 2012 View Comments
Intel Itanium logo

Computer giant Oracle has said that it will continue to develop software for servers based on Intel's Itanium microprocessors after all, following a court ruling that the company is obliged under the terms of its contract with partner HP to do so.

Oracle had said that it would discontinue support for the Itanium in 2011 as a result of disappointing sales of servers based on the 64-bit family of microprocessors.

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However, HP filed suit against Oracle, claiming that its decision to withdraw support would be damaging to the company and its customers, and contrary to an agreement made between the two companies when the microprocessor was still being designed.

The Itanium was the successor to HP's PA-RISC family of microprocessors, which by the late 1990s had become too expensive to maintain. HP therefore threw in its lot with Intel, rolling its own microprocessor design capabilities into an Intel-led initiative that, it was hoped, all the major Unix server vendors would support.

In the end, HP was the only major high-end hardware vendor left alongside Intel after IBM and others pulled out, although Bull, NEC, Inspur and Huawei also produce Itanium-based servers. Dell, Hitachi, IBM, Unisys, SGI and Fujitsu have all discontinued Itanium development over the past 10 years. 

In a brief statement, Oracle stated that it:

  • "Will continue building the latest versions of Oracle's database; and,
  • Will continue building latest versions of its other software covered by the judge's ruling to HP Itanium computers."

Oracle had been expected to appeal against the ruling, but will now support database and other software produced for Itanium until 2020, as per the two companies' original agreement. However, that support may come at a price for customers.

Furthermore, since Oracle's announcement HP's sales of Itanium-based systems have fallen sharply. 

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