The arrival of Merced and NT 5 will not spell the end of Risc and Unix, say Dataquest analysts.
Said Peter Ffoulkes, Dataquest analyst speaking at the company's Servertech 99 conference in San Jose, "We're not seeing the bottom fall out of the Unix/Risc market at all."
Even by 2003, servers built around the Intel IA-64 architecture will account for only 10 to 15 per cent of worldwide server revenues, as Intel and Microsoft have a long way to go to solve their 64-bit problems, he said.
The dominant server platform in 2003 will not be IA-64, but IA-32 with Risc in a solid second position in terms of revenue. In the midrange and high end of the server market, Risc processors will retain their dominance.
Intel's next-generation 32-bit processor, codenamed Foster, is expected to ship in late 2000 - just after Merced, the first IA-64 chip. Foster is expected to outperform Merced in running existing 32-bit code, limiting Merced's appeal.
Ffoulkes points out that Intel has little choice but to continue to speed up its 32-bit processors, "because that's where the majority of Intel's revenues are." Most users will not require 64-bit performance any time soon, he added. Ffoulkes said that Intel, if it wishes to make IA-64 a success, would do well to concentrate on the low-end and ignore high end servers for the time being. "Pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap," advised ffoulkes. "The high end will take care of itself."
Microsoft's 64-bit challenge is more straightforward: simply getting the 64-bit version of NT out of the door. Microsoft demonstrated an early version of 64-bit Windows 2000 at Winhec in April, but the operating system is not expected to ship before 2001 and may not be stable until well after that.
As a consequence, the main operating system on IA-64, at least initially, is likely to be some form of Unix, Ffoulkes said. Whether it is Solaris, HP-UX, Compaq Tru64, IBM and SCO Monterey or Linux.
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