By contrast, HP and Intel said they are dedicating a large amount of resources to making sure Linux runs well on Itanium, as it will be one of the key operating systems for the chip. Linux's similarity to Unix can make it a manageable task to port software from a Power or Sun Microsystems UltraSPARC-based system to one based on Itanium 2, according to HP and Intel.
An Intel spokeswoman said the company "respectfully disagrees with IBM" as Itanium demand has exceeded its expectations in some vertical markets. The company also has a "massive amount of resources" dedicated to tuning software and operating systems for its various chips.
Likewise, HP said it has been working with the Linux community for years and is trying to help boost the operating system's ability to work on large, multiprocessor servers as a way to increase its Itanium server performance, according to Judy Chavis, worldwide Linux director at HP.
"We were ahead of IBM for years before they realized Linux was important, and their comments are just another facet of this," she said. "I think IBM now realizes they have some serious competition on their hands with Itanium."
Illuminata's Haff agreed that the Itanium chip has proved to be a formidable competitor to Power and Sun Microsystems' UltraSPARC processors but added that he senses the industry cooling on Itanium overall.
"I think the industry is starting to shift a bit around Itanium," Haff said. "Two years ago people looked at Itanium and thought it would be the natural order of things to have Intel as the 64-bit chip supplier. The fact is that Itanium is still basically an HPCC [high-performance computing clusters] play, so IBM is looking to go their own route if they can get just as much market share with Power."