Intel Not Shaken by Microsoft's Itanium Phase Out

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that it will be ending support for Intel's Itanium IA64 architecture after Windows Server 2008 R2's extended support runs out in eight years' time. While having the world's largest software maker saying that it'll no longer be supporting your technology may worry most companies, Intel isn't one of them.

In fact, most of the Itanium servers around the world do not run Microsoft Windows as Patrick Ward, an Intel spokesperson, explained to Xbit Labs: "Windows represents less than 6% of current Itanium sales according to IDC's Q3 2009 server tracker report. Most Itanium users run Unix, specifically HP-UX. Those customers would argue that the combination of HP-UX and the Itanium platform represent a very formidable mission-critical solution, which many of the world's leading companies have chosen."

Intel may have launched its impressive Nehalem-EX architecture in the new Xeon 7500 processor line, the chipmaker still sees the Itanium as the choice for mission critical customers.

"For pure performance, you might go with Xeon processors, but the mission critical customers Itanium targets are most interested in reliability, serviceability and availability features across the operating system, processors and other aspects of their enterprise computing infrastructure. Processor performance is only one aspect of what interests them," said Ward.

So, even though Microsoft and Red Hat have decided to leave Itanium support by the wayside, Intel sees a continued need for its IA64 processor technology.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • eddieroolz
    Intel of course wouldn't admit that it would be concerned even if it was. Either way, like this article points out, it's not like Windows had a large share with IA-64 anyway.
  • alextheblue
    "Only six percent of Itanium systems run Microsoft Windows."
    "Windows represents less than 6% of current Itanium sales"

    So... is it 6 of current sales, or 6% of whats already deployed?

    "So, even though Microsoft and Red Hat have decided to leave Itanium support by the wayside, Intel sees a continued need for its IA64 processor technology."

    Did you expect Intel to say anything different? Even if Intel themselves were dropping support for IA64 themselves, next week, they wouldn't say anything different.
  • michaelahess
    I've never had issues with xeon reliability, not sure how Intel can pitch the Itanium as more reliable. I've had xeon systems running for over 10 years straight with hardly more than the occasional reboot. In clusters, there's just nothing that can knock them down, for much less than the Itanium.
  • wotan31
    Who cares about Windows on Itanium anyways? It was a crappy half-hearted port with almost zero application support- just like Windows on DEC Alpha and Windows on MIPS. Nobody was using it, particularly since Microsoft's own enterprise applications like Exchange were never ported to Itanium. HP-UX right now is the only mainstream Itanium user- and only because there is no alternative. PA-RISC has been killed off, and *all* current HP-UX servers from HP are Itanium-only.
  • wotan31
    Also, most Windows servers are dinky inexpensive things. Usually $10k and less. The price point of Itanium is way way higher than that. So it doesn;t fit the budgets of most Windows shops. And if you do have the budget, you're more than likely going for a more robust system running some flavor of UNIX.
  • soundefx
    It was about time.
  • simple_inhibition
    and the stern of the itanic just crept up a little higher in the air...
  • curnel_D
    IA64 is a superior instruction set compared to 86x64, when running certain things. (Most specifically, 64-bit only environments).

    I don't think anyone was really worried that the Itanium was in danger.
  • czar1020
    Hmm I've never with a server that had a CPU related problem. It's either the OS or Hard drives.
  • rdhood
    HP-UX and the apps that run on it are HP's cash cow. A data center can no longer purchase an IA64 server with HP-UX with an eye to move to MS in the future.

    This also appears to be a blow to HP's Integrity Virtual Machines. Without RH and MS on board, the Integrity VM strategy may have been a huge expensive marketing and development push to a dead end.

    Tukwila was 3 years late, and that does not bode well for any future IA64 chip.

    All in all, this appears to hurt Hewlett Packard far more than MS or Intel. It throws the integrity virtualization strategy in disarray, it creates a black cloud over future chip development.