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Oracle ramped up the war of words between itself and HP yesterday, declaring that it would discontinue support of Intel’s Itanium chip – the high-end processor that competes against the likes of Oracle/Sun SPARC – because Intel top management said the chip was about to go end-of-life. HP and Intel fired back, saying Itanium will continue to be developed and has a roadmap that extends 10 years out.

Here’s what Oracle said in a brief statement released on its website:

"After multiple conversations with Intel senior management Oracle has decided to discontinue all software development on the Intel Itanium microprocessor. Intel management made it clear that their strategic focus is on their x86 microprocessor and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life.

"Both Microsoft and RedHat have already stopped developing software for Itanium.  HP CEO Leo Apotheker made no mention of Itanium in his long and detailed presentation on the future strategic direction of HP.

"Oracle will continue to provide customers with support for existing versions of Oracle software products that already run on Itanium."

Responding to the Oracle statement HP said that it will "continue the development and innovation of Itanium-based Integrity server platforms with its HP-UX operating system using a roadmap that extends more than 10 years."

And Oracle’s conversations with senior Intel management must not have included the company’s CEO who fired back in his own statement today: “Intel’s work on Intel Itanium processors and platforms continues unabated with multiple generations of chips currently in development and on schedule,” said Paul Otellini, president and CEO of Intel Corp. “We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture.”

HP executives scolded Oracle’s move to undermine the Itanium platform.

“Oracle continues to show a pattern of anti-customer behavior as they move to shore up their failing Sun server business,” said Dave Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager, Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking, HP, in a statement. “HP believes in fair and honest competition. Competition is good for customers, innovation and the marketplace. We are shocked that Oracle would put enterprises and governments at risk while costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity in a shameless gambit to limit fair competition.”

HP also said that it would continue to support customers running existing versions of Oracle software on Itanium-based Integrity servers, both existing and future platforms.

Intel’s Itanium chip platform was designed to go up against chips that ran the Unix operating system and were designed for heavy compute applications. The line of chips is separate from Intel’s x86 line which now includes Intel’s Xeon brand processors.