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."