The course for Intel’s server platform is one in which two distinct technologies, x86 and EPIC, run parallel to each other to adress the spectrum of users. 

That’s the word from Joubert De Lange, market development manager for Intel South and Sub-Saharan Africa, who adds: “In its simplest form, the market for servers can be divided into two distinct parts – the volume-based market which accounts for 80% of the installed base, and the proprietary market which accounts for the remaining 20%.”
For the volume-based market, Intel’s Xeon dual core architecture is the technology of choice, offering industry standard x86-based multi-processor technology that is both cost-effective and performance-driven for both 32-bit and 64-bit environments.
It fits well into areas such as mail, Web services, caching and proxies, workgroup file and print serving, and high-performance computing in the so-called scale-out market where processing power is increased by adding more multi-processor server boxes, usually in a rack or blade format.
The Xeon architecture is based on technology with an extensive track record and serves users such as SMBs and larger corporate branches well.
The x86 architecture does have its limitations, however. While 64-bit extensions have enabled it to overcome memory limitations, it is not a true 64-bit environment. For the volume market this is not generally a problem as this area is focused more on lower costs than higher performance.
Intel’s 64-bit Itanium 2 architecture, on the other hand, is based on Intel’s EPIC (Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing) technology designed with compute parallelism, massive caches and CPU execution resources to handle vast amounts of data, complex calculations, and high-volume transactions.
Itanium 2 technology is aimed at the traditional proprietary RISC-based market where uptime and availability are critical such as back-end support for CRM, SCM and ERP applications, high performance computing, business intelligence and online transaction processing (OLTP) database operation.
This is the so-called scale-up market where additional processors are installed into the same server in order to expand performance.
Itanium 2 provides users with more choice and flexibility in their computing environments.
Instead of being tied into a single vendor , the technology introduces users to choice in areas of operating system, supporting operating systems such as Linux, Unix, Windows, VMS and more; a choice of more than 8 000 applications and a choice in server configuration from a single processor to as many as 512 processors.
De Lange explains that the move to multi-core processor technology has radically changed the face of both the desktop and server market.
“Multiple cores within a single processor adds huge performance gains over traditional single core systems. Historically, the number of processors a server could handle depended on the number of sockets available – so two sockets would allow for a two-way configuration. Multi-core technology has changed this with dual core systems essentially doubling the number of processors available for the system.
“When Intel introduces quad-core technology for servers, the number will double again. In essence, this transcends the basic principles of Moore’s Law and makes Intel’s server platform an excellent value proposition for users looking for a combination of high-performance and low power consumption with an improved price:performance ratio.”