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Oracle releases emails

by on17 May 2012

Shows that HP and Intel planned to kill Itanium

Oracle has released some redacted emails and other documents submitted as evidence in the Oracle-Hewlett-Packard Itanium trial which it says indicate that HP and Intel had already planned to bring an end to the Itanium chip’s life.

The implication is that HP lied to its customers about the chip’s long-term future. In an open letter to affected customers, Oracle said it was releasing the documents in order to allow customers to make their own mind up. The emails show that HP relied heavily on profits earned from multiyear sales and support contracts with customers who bought its Integrity servers that run Itanium chip.

It paid Intel nearly a half-billion dollars to keep the chip alive, despite the fact that, outside of HP, there was no other single vendor using Itanium chips. Intel, for its part, certainly looks like it wants out of the business of making the chip. Martin Fink, then-head of HP’s Business Critical Server business said that if HP did not pay up then the teams producing certain chips that were in the process of being designed, and slap “high fives all around.”

Oracle claims that HP lied to the rest of the world insisting that Itanium would be around for many generations to come. HP just sent a statement said that Intel has provided unequivocal and repeated statements to the marketplace that Itanium is not at an end of life. The unsealing of court filings, the public can see the undisputed facts of Intel’s Itanium roadmap clearly showing a long and sustained future for Itanium.

The letters were sent between August 2007 and April 2011. In the first Fink wrote to an HP exec saying that Intel was talking about  canceling Poulsen, which was 32 nanometer version of Itanium that was to be released sometime this year. He was told to call Pat Gelsinger, the once very senior Intel executive who was at one time widely considered to be a possible successor to current CEO Paul Otellini. Another email said that Gelsinger was worried that an HP server was being built using and AMD chip. There was another mail Fink from Scott Stallard who talked about a meeting with Intel’s Tom Kilroy, then VP of its enterprise business which warned about the dangers of telling the world about the end of the Itanium roadmap.  In a later email Intel’s Kilroy concedes that the then-current core used to build the Itanium chip has reached its end of life.

There are two paths forward, one expensive, the other painful. Otellini said that Intel can’t continue to lose money on the product. But HP said that it would be hard to walk away from those customers who bought the chip.

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