Intel’s ‘Itanic’ mistake forces chipmaker to play catch-up with Apple, IBM, AMD

“In its biggest strategic mistake in a decade, Intel has spent an estimated $2 billion creating a high-speed computer chip, the Itanium, that most customers don’t want and don’t need. Once intended to help the Santa Clara chip giant extend its dominance from personal computers to corporate computing, the Itanium has been such a flop that many industry insiders call it the ‘Itanic,'” Therese Poletti and Dean Takahashi report for The Mercury News.

“Moreover, Intel’s insistence on supporting the Itanium over a cheaper, more popular technology that accomplishes many of the same aims has opened the door for its archrival, Advanced Micro Devices, to make inroads into the market for high-power machines companies use to manage financial transactions and run corporate networks,” Poletti and Takahashi report.

“Even Hewlett-Packard, which co-developed the Itanium with Intel, has bowed to customer demand and said it would sell AMD-powered servers,” Poletti and Takahashi report. “Two weeks ago, Intel did an about-face, announcing that it would incorporate technology that mimics AMD’s fast-selling Opteron chip into cheaper Intel chips being introduced later this year.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Although the article glaringly makes no mention of it, Apple and IBM together introduced and shipped the world


  1. “According to market research firm IDC, 35,000 servers were sold in 2003 with Opteron chips, compared with 19,000 servers with Itanium chips.”
    How many G5 servers has Apple sold? I bet that Apple has sold more G5 processors than AMD and Intel combined. Media does not understand the computer market at all. They forget things all the time. Like this writer focuses only to AMD and Intel.

  2. All we can ask for now is a 64 bit OS for G5s and backwards compatible to take full advantage of everything G4s can offer. Hopefully Apple can put out the first 64 bit OS, one that will leave Winblows shaking in its box.

  3. Au contraire, the world’s first 64-bit desktop processor was the DEC Alpha 21064, which debuted in the DECpc AXP/150 around… 1993. A full decade before the G5. Running Windows NT 3.1. As much as AMD and Apple would like us to think the Opteron and G5, respectively, were the first 64-bit chips to find their way into ordinary desktop systems, DEC beat them by a DECade. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    Now, if you wanted to point out that the G5 was the first 64-bit CPU in a desktop system advertised on VH-1, or the first one in a desktop system you can just pop over to the mall and buy (presuming your mall has an Apple Store or other Apple reseller), you’d definitely be right. And I suspect Apple’s sold quite a few more Power Mac G5’s than DEC sold AXP/150’s…

  4. 64-bit OS. Apple has already released 64-bit optimized math frameworks to take advantage of the 970’s FP2 dual 64-bit FPU and they modified their memory management to allow each process to have a separate and distinct 4GB space. The next step is to allow a greater than 4GB contiguous RAM space. But, for the most part the current modifications are great interim step.

    If you need to do 64-bit math, it’s already there. You want to use 64-bit integers, pointers you can. You just can’t pass 64 bit pointers to the frameworks, but you can use them internally. You want to access more than 4GB, you can, you just have to roll your own memory management instead of using the frameworks. With each new release, more and more frameworks will be 64-bit safe. But for those that need to use it now, they can, it’s just not as easy as using Cocoa pre-written objects, you got to do it the old fashioned way.

  5. Intel has no concerns about Apple. Apple is still a niche player and doesn’t threaten Intel’s market in the slightest.

    As for the G5 being out before the Opteron.. the MDN take is incorrect unless you want to play the semantics game (desktop computer vs workstation or server) as the Opteron was out before the G5 (also, the G5 date mentioned is the public announcement date, not the shipping date which didn’t follow for a few months)

    As for servers sold mentioned by “Finland”… so now G5s are servers– I thought they were desktops? …unless you are referring to G5 Xserves which still haven’t shipped to a majority of customers (I should know since I have 16 on order). The G5s are also still outclassed compared to a dual 246 Opteron system (which is now middle of the range for an Opteron) I tested the Opteron with 4GB Ram vs my dual 2.0Ghz G5 with 4GB Ram and the Opteron was 20% faster in almost every task. I have the Xserves on order only because I have an OSX only app, otherwise I wouldn’t even consider buying them even with Apple’s generous discount.

    Also, Itanium is still not a bust as it has different applications and the next version is still slated for delivery.

  6. been there done that.
    Yep I mean desktop G5. Would like to know how many pre-orders there is for G5 xServers. I have ordered 2 and you 16 = 18.
    The article counts how many processors is sold. So those processors that are inside PowerMac’s makes quite nice amount that is more than Intel and AMD together.

  7. No, the article counts servers, not chips. Opterons come in 2-Way, 4-Way, and 8-way configurations (with 16-way coming soon). Itaniums scale equally well. Only Xeons are limited to 2-way.

    If you’re going to tally up a score with G5s using your qualifications, then you have to include all of the AMD64 line including the Athlon64 chips. AMD will have Apple beat. Just look at the Top500 for all the Opterons and you’ll see #6-Lightning at Los Alamos NL has 2816 Opteron chips, #93 has 512 Opterons, #116 has 512, #165 has 512, and on and on… but each only count as 1 server.

  8. I wonder if their biggest mistake in a decade was hiring away all of those Motorola Engineers. Could it be that they are now not doing for wintel what they once didn’t do for the Mac?

  9. “Although the article glaringly makes no mention of it, Apple and IBM together introduced and shipped the world�s first 64-bit desktop processor, the PowerPC G5 on June 23, 2003 – before any PC with an AMD Opteron.”

    Did not the G5’s start shipping roughly one month after June 23? (unless you’re virginia tech, but how many of us are virginia tech?) The opterons announcement (and shipping) date was april 23.

    Though it’s nice to play the role of underappriciated and persecuted, I’m afraid you can’t this time, MDN.

  10. Does anyone remember the 64 bit PowerPC 620 from 10 years ago? Unlike Intel who is trying to add 64 bit “extensions” to its x86 architecture, the PowerPC architecture was designed from the ground up to run 64 bit.

  11. been there done that.
    You are right. I am mixing things. It would be interesting to know how many servers Apple has sold after the introduction. One thing is sure. Apple will make IBM 970FX very successful processor. Or we are because we buy loads of those. It is getting late 23:49. Me sleep now. You guys sort it out so that when I wake everything is ready with my morning tee ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  12. Been there: Actually, it’s only Xeon DP (dual processor) that’s limited to two processors, Xeon MP (multi processor) is being used by IBM amongst others to scale to 16-way, in a novel 2 x 8-way chassis combo strung together with some fancy interconnect.


    As a more general point, this whole dick-swinging “Whose chip was first to 64-bit?” argument is just a bit lame.

    History should record the more important question, which is�

    Which platform supplied the first complete 64-bit solution, built with a mainstream commercially available operating system and delivering a meaningful portfolio of applications that make use of that functionality?

    In other word, which platform made 64-bit make sense to the most number of people?

    Now there’s a question worth debating.

  13. The reason they don’t mention the PPC 970’s role as the first 64 bit desktop processor is that the Itanic is not a desktop processor. Period. It is only for Servers. It is 64-bit only. It can’t run 32 bit software at anywhere near the native speed of the Opteron or PPC 970.

  14. Hey we have to be careful here or we will have to acknowledge that Eddison never invented anything all he did was take others work develop it further, efficiently patent them where the originators hadn’t, and make them practical and popular. Hmmm now who does that remind me of. And whats this about Watt inventing the steam engine and Stepheson the locomotive I don’t think so. Hey what Im trying to say is that its who makes it work as a whole and populises it that counts not the steps along the way.

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