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Compaq gets fix for Itanium servers

Intel issues new software that fixes a problem that held up the release of the company's first Itanium servers.

Intel has issued new software that fixes a problem that held up the release of Compaq Computer's first Itanium servers.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based giant has come out with a new BIOS (basic input/output system) for its Itanium chip that resolves a problem Compaq recently discovered with its ProLiant 590/64 server, which contains the chip.

Earlier this month, Compaq determined that its Itanium servers did not pass its internal testing procedures. The problem, Compaq claimed, was caused by the processor and also affected servers from other manufacturers. Compaq consequently halted shipments of its machines.

During an investigation by both companies, it was determined that the problem lay in its BIOS, a mandatory software interface between the hardware and operating system. Intel created a new BIOS to fix the problem, a spokesman said. Intel is now recommending that all manufacturers adopt the new BIOS.

The problem, earlier termed a "sighting," is not a bug, the spokesman added. Intel will also not have to alter the design of Itanium to cure the problem.

Itanium, co-developed by Intel and Hewlett-Packard, is designed to power servers that will compete against machines from Sun Microsystems. Originally due in the mid- to late 1990s, the chip came out commercially in May 2001.

Partly because of the delays and partly because of performance, most server manufacturers have barely marketed servers featuring the first version of the chip and are concentrating on the next version, code-named McKinley, which comes out later this year in pilot systems. Commercial versions of McKinley servers will debut in mid-2002.