HP has stopped selling workstations based on Intel's Itanium 2 microprocessor.

Citing market conditions, the company stopped selling workstations based on the 64-bit processor at the start of September, just two months after the first processor based on Intel's 64-bit architecture began shipping.

"Basically this is a response to customer requirements in the workstation business," said Kathy Sowards, an HP spokeswoman. HP has been selling two Itanium workstations: the single-processor zx2000 and dual-processor zx6000 workstations, both of which were introduced in September 2002.

HP's decision is a setback to the processor that Intel at one point billed as a future industry standard. In recent years, however, Intel executives positioned Itanium as an alternative to the RISC processors sold by Sun and IBM. Sun, IBM and HP all continue to sell RISC-based workstations.

HP had been the only major company to sell workstations based on Itanium, said Erica Fields, an Intel spokeswoman: "The workstation market has never been our priority focus for Itanium. Our family of Xeon processors with Nocona and EM64T provides the best price performance for the workstation market."

The decision is a further sign of the increasing dominance of PC systems in high-end workstations, said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with Insight64. "What you have is this massive migration from RISC to x86 and x86 with 64-bit extensions," he said. "Now that Xeon has 64-bit capabilities, that will probably ice the cake."

Brookwood called HP's decision "a little bit of a surprise but not a shock". Because there was only one major supplier of Itanium workstations, the company had difficulty in convincing sellers of high-end workstation software to port their applications to Itanium, he said. HP will continue to provide support for the Itanium workstations until 2009.

The decision to get out of the workstation business has no impact on HP's Itanium-based server products, Sowards said. HP will continue its Integrity server line.