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Microsoft Phasing Out Support for Intel Itanium

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 30 comments

Microsoft announces plans for Itanium's going-away party. But that's still eight years away.

Microsoft today revealed in its Windows Server Division Weblog that it plans to phase out support for Intel's Itanium processor technology.

"Windows Server 2008 R2 will be the last version of Windows Server to support the Intel Itanium architecture," wrote Dan Reger, Senior Technical Product Manager of Windows Server. "SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010 are also the last versions to support Itanium."

Current Itanium users shouldn't be worried in the least bit, however, as Microsoft intends to fully support the platform as it is in the current generation.

"Current support for Itanium remains unchanged. Each of these products represent the state of the art of their respective product lines," Reger added. "Each fully support Itanium, support the recently-released Itanium 9300 ('Tukwila') processor, and Microsoft’s support for these products will continue – following the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy."

What that adds up to is eight more years of support. Mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems (and R2) will end, on July 9, 2013, while extended support will continue until July 10, 2018.

Why would Microsoft be phasing out one of Intel's industrial chips? Because the growing capabilities of technology that's evolved from the consumer space.

"The natural evolution of the x86 64-bit ('x64') architecture has led to the creation of processors and servers which deliver the scalability and reliability needed for today’s 'mission-critical' workloads," Reger noted. "Just this week, both Intel and AMD have released new high core-count processors, and servers with 8 or more x64 processors have now been announced by a full dozen server manufacturers. Such servers contain 64 to 96 processor cores, with more on the horizon."

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  • 20 Hide
    Anonymous , April 6, 2010 3:54 AM
    TA152H: Actually, it's the performance of Itanium that sucks, not the other way around. Microsoft said it sucks, Linus Torvalds(creator of Linux) said it sucks, who else do you need to hear it from?
  • 18 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , April 6, 2010 4:06 AM
    Also, MS had only a tiny sliver of marketshare on Itanium platforms: most ran HPUX (HP's Unix distro) if I remember right. Little loss for MS to drop the platform.
  • 13 Hide
    palladin9479 , April 6, 2010 4:46 AM
    Itanium was Intel's bad idea to take over the server processor marketplace. It was proprietary as hell and they had no plans on licensing its instruction set to any other manufactures (AMD). Thankfully it didn't work out, it sucked performance wide and required everything to be compiled for it naitivly.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    Anonymous , April 6, 2010 3:54 AM
    TA152H: Actually, it's the performance of Itanium that sucks, not the other way around. Microsoft said it sucks, Linus Torvalds(creator of Linux) said it sucks, who else do you need to hear it from?
  • 18 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , April 6, 2010 4:06 AM
    Also, MS had only a tiny sliver of marketshare on Itanium platforms: most ran HPUX (HP's Unix distro) if I remember right. Little loss for MS to drop the platform.
  • 13 Hide
    palladin9479 , April 6, 2010 4:46 AM
    Itanium was Intel's bad idea to take over the server processor marketplace. It was proprietary as hell and they had no plans on licensing its instruction set to any other manufactures (AMD). Thankfully it didn't work out, it sucked performance wide and required everything to be compiled for it naitivly.
  • 0 Hide
    ptroen , April 6, 2010 4:51 AM
    Itanium is actually a great idea it's just phasing out the x86 instructions is downright tricky. I'm surprised why x86 manufactors haven't introduced new cores with only x86 instructions. This would be the easiest way to solve this problem in the long run.
  • 0 Hide
    ptroen , April 6, 2010 4:54 AM
    err I mean cores with x64 instructions....
  • 1 Hide
    Jaspel , April 6, 2010 5:04 AM
    Who needs EFI of 64bit? -sarcasm
  • 5 Hide
    jimmysmitty , April 6, 2010 5:58 AM
    The area Itanium sucked in was x86 because it was not naitive. It was emulated instead which cut 20% performance. Microsoft is mainly a x86 OS so it would make sense.

    Itanium will go forward in the pure x64 market.
  • 2 Hide
    martel80 , April 6, 2010 8:10 AM
    Itanium does not have any features most x86 CPUs have (branch prediction, speculative execution etc.) and relies on the compiler to put this into the executable. Works great in theory, fails (failed) practically because the compiler is too hard to develop. It's not the hardware that's bad...

    OTOH, it would be great if MS used the resources to support ARM. Having windows 7 on ARM wouldn't be so bad.
  • 2 Hide
    GeoMan , April 6, 2010 11:08 AM
    And so the beginning of the end for the Itanic

    Watchman: ‘Captain, ice berg ahead!’
    Captain: ‘Don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of time to steer around it’

    Fare well Itanic, you probably won’t be missed.
  • 0 Hide
    Marco925 , April 6, 2010 12:38 PM
    This was supposed to be the next biggest thing, what a flop....
  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , April 6, 2010 1:13 PM
    Sounds like the typical phasing out of old tehcnology that will be replaced by new technology.
  • 9 Hide
    rhino13 , April 6, 2010 2:51 PM
    Ahhh... Itanium looked so good on paper.
    Kinda like a real GPU from Intel...
  • 0 Hide
    digiex , April 6, 2010 2:53 PM
    Intel invented the x86 architecture,
    AMD kick started the x64 architecture.
  • 4 Hide
    Shadow703793 , April 6, 2010 3:24 PM
    digiexIntel invented the x86 architecture, AMD added 64bit extension to x86.

    Fixed.

    The only "true" 64bit CPU from Intel/AMD was the Itanium.
  • 1 Hide
    lemonade4 , April 6, 2010 4:12 PM
    this is tech news I like to see Marcus :D 
  • 0 Hide
    ta152h , April 6, 2010 5:05 PM
    linus_torvalds_groupieTA152H: Actually, it's the performance of Itanium that sucks, not the other way around. Microsoft said it sucks, Linus Torvalds(creator of Linux) said it sucks, who else do you need to hear it from?


    Linus Torvalds isn't always right, despite your apparent worship. He and another fellow have argued back and forth on the Itanium. Linus believes even a bad instruction set is OK, because over time it gets understood and works OK. Volume and time makes up for a lot of the problems, according to him.

    The problem with Itanium is it's always way behind in manufacturing technology. It just moved to 65nm, whereas Intel has been using 32nm for x86 for months.

    But, your point is irrelevant. Itanium has always been slower, for reasons mentioned above, but Microsoft supported it. Tukwila closes the gap, it doesn't make it bigger. But, the problem is, HP/UX and Oracle are roughly twice as fast on the Itanium as Windows and SQL Server. So no one wants it. Well, not enough people want it to make it feasible for Microsoft to keep developing it.
  • 0 Hide
    ta152h , April 6, 2010 5:07 PM
    ptroenerr I mean cores with x64 instructions....

    64-bit is generally slower than 32-bit, and almost completely unnecessary for many apps. They are also lousy like x86, so it's not like you could get rid of the decoders and have a nice RISC instruction set. You'd still have the problems, with little benefit. Also, did you forget BIOS screens are 16-bit (real mode)?
  • 2 Hide
    dgingeri , April 6, 2010 5:53 PM
    TA152HBut, the problem is, HP/UX and Oracle are roughly twice as fast on the Itanium as Windows and SQL Server.


    The problem here is that Itanium costs 8 times as much and uses more than twice the power. Using x64, a company can cut costs by 75%, cut power by 10-15%, cut cooling by 10-15%, and get the same performance.

    There are just guys out there who don't want to change because then they wouldn't "be needed". They want to secure their jobs rather than save the company money. These same type of guys are resisting the death of both OS400 and many Unix applications.

    Wintel/x64 can keep up in many of these arenas, although not all. Microsoft and Intel are catching up in the areas where they don't currently keep up. All the while, there are guys out there resisting the change because they wouldn't know how to take care of the new systems (even though it is much easier to learn, thus the labor market for Windows Server admins is wider and cheaper) and they'd lose their exclusivity.

    People who hold back change just to keep from having to learn a new job make me sick. The wave is coming. There is no getting out of the way. Adapt or die.
  • 0 Hide
    dgingeri , April 6, 2010 5:58 PM
    dgingeriThe problem here is that Itanium costs 8 times as much and uses more than twice the power. Using x64, a company can cut costs by 75%, cut power by 10-15%, cut cooling by 10-15%, and get the same performance. There are just guys out there who don't want to change because then they wouldn't "be needed". They want to secure their jobs rather than save the company money. These same type of guys are resisting the death of both OS400 and many Unix applications. Wintel/x64 can keep up in many of these arenas, although not all. Microsoft and Intel are catching up in the areas where they don't currently keep up. All the while, there are guys out there resisting the change because they wouldn't know how to take care of the new systems (even though it is much easier to learn, thus the labor market for Windows Server admins is wider and cheaper) and they'd lose their exclusivity. People who hold back change just to keep from having to learn a new job make me sick. The wave is coming. There is no getting out of the way. Adapt or die.


    no it certainly isn't. 64-bit software has access to twice as many registers and is executed faster on AMD processors. Most floating point instructions execute from 1 to 5 clock cycles faster on AMD processors, and SSE/MMX instructions are 2 clock cycles faster almost all the way across the board. Granted, Intel chips don't have this advantage, but there is no penalty for running in 64-bit mode. The register advantage alone is enough to give it a 3-5% advantage.
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