Hewlett Packard Co quietly withdrew its Itanium-based workstation line from marketing on September 1, and spent last Friday trying to do damage control with the IT press as the word got out.
Given the fact that the PA-8800 is either the final or penultimate PA-RISC processor in HP’s roadmap, dropping the zx2000 and zx6000 workstations, which use Itanium processors, from the line and discontinuing its Itanium workstations entirely begs the question of what plans HP has long-term for its HP-UX workstation customers. And, everybody is now going to wonder if the withdrawal of Itanium workstations somehow points to a future HP that doesn’t use Itanium in servers.
The statement from HP indicated that the decision to stop selling Itanium workstations was based on customer needs: In working with and listening to our high-performance workstation partners and customers, we have become aware that the focus in this arena is being driven toward 64-bit extension technology.
Well, that is all well and good for HP’s Unix workstation customers, provided that they don’t mind paying a big premium to buy baby Itanium/HP-UX servers and use them as workstations, they don’t mind shifting to Windows or Linux for workstations, or they know that HP is going to support HP-UX on either 64-bit Xeon or Opteron processors. There is no indication that the latter is going to happen, by the way. But stranger things have happened.
HP is obviously very keen to explain that the death of Itanium doesn’t mean it is dropping its support for Itanium on servers.
The decision to discontinue HP’s Itanium workstation investment is limited to the workstation market and has no impact on HP’s success with Itanium-based Integrity servers, said the company statement. HP continues its ongoing investment in Integrity server development and the multi-OS industry-standard Integrity server ecosystem. In the server market, which has different dynamics and customer requirements, HP continues its commitment to deliver on the roadmap for Integrity servers, as part of its overall portfolio of industry-standards based servers.
The question now is whether customers will believe HP. If they don’t, they may start pressuring HP to port HP-UX to Xeon-64s or Opterons. This would be a very big job.