That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the ROI. Itanium is a staple of government and high reliability services. If you actually need to never lose any data ever you run Itanium.
Wall Street Journal’s comment that you can do Itanium things on Non-Itanium processors borders on stupidity, but certainly doesn’t represent the views of anyone who has done large enterprise deployments. Itanium has virtualization features that aren’t present in any other chip, and fault monitoring that let’s you know before you have a hardware issue. Deploying "clouds" and "farms" on Itanium is how you get to Six 9’s of uptime and beyond.
"Itanium® complete Machine Check Architecture Recovery allows error recovery from consumed and unconsumed data as well as non-data errors. Intel® Cache Safe Technology enables predictive error analysis. Extensive use of soft-error resilient circuitry provides best-in-class error prevention capabilities."
In layman’s terms Itanium can actually tell when Memory and other components are going to fail, notify the Administrator and recover the data before it is lost. Combine these features with Citrix’s ability to move virtualized machines from one physical machine to another, and you have the ability to achieve 100% uptime. Only the reliability of your farm’s power and Internet connection impact your uptime numbers.
Sure you can run "Mainstream" hardware if you want to achieve Google SLA’s of 99.5% maybe even 99.9% advertised with downtime return fees offsetting your total operating costs, but if you really want 5+ 9’s the only way to get there is with Itanium.
But it is Itanium servers that separate the men from the boys, and Intel isn’t planning to drop them.
In March Intel stated:
“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 Corporation “We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture.”