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HP, Intel CEOs to bang Itanium drum

Mark Hurd and Paul Otellini, the respective chief executives of Hewlett-Packard and Intel, are joining mutual customers on March 2 in Palo Alto, Calif., to discuss work to further their alliance around the Itanium processor.

According to an advertisement for the event, which HP will Webcast, the two executives will "take the challenges of enterprise computing head-on." A video appearance by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison hints that there may be news addressing some of the software hurdles that have hobbled Itanium's arrival in the marketplace.

HP initiated the Itanium project in the late 1980s, then signed a partnership with Intel to commercialize the processor. Slow initial performance, product delays and software incompatibilities undercut the once-prevalent assumption that the processor would dominate, and Intel gradually pared back its ambitions. The chip is now designed for higher-end servers.

An IDC study released last week showed that customers have rosier-than-expected views of Itanium, including a forecast of $6.6 billion in customer spending on Itanium servers in 2009. That projection falls far short of much more bullish Itanium projections in earlier years, such as a 1997 forecast that predicted sales of $33 billion in 2001.