Intel Plans Itanium Chips, Maybe For The Last Time

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Intel has planned to launch a downgraded iteration of its Itanium product line going forward this year given decent demands for the IA64 chips. A report from Kitguru cites an Intel spokesperson as saying that “Kittson” will be the first new version of the chipset since 2012 and will use 32nm process technology, which is a lower version of the original 22nm plan.

Future of Itanium chips

Anna Cheng, a spokesperson for the chip maker, said Intel is focused on its Intel Itanium product line along with the launch of the next-generation Intel Itanium processor, dubbed “Kittson.” The Itanium-based chips will be designed on Intel’s 32nm process technology and will also be compatible with the existing Itanium 9300/9500 platforms, improving the performance of customers, investment protections and a seamless upgrade path for the existing systems.

The chip maker has been working on its Xeon chips while ignoring the IA64 chips. This forced various partners to make a shift from the Itanium 9500 “Poulson” chip, which was the last new release, to the better Xeon chips.

HP is the only big company to use Itanium chips, which poses a big question mark about the future of Itanium post-Kittson. Cheng suggested that Intel, HP and other OEM partners are holding a discussion about the timing and feature set of Kittson, and there is no new product plan announced after Kittson. Meanwhile, HP is gradually moving towards the x86-64 ecosystem, which suggests that soon enough there will be no play for Itanium chips.

Should Intel abandon Itanium?

Scrapping Itanium altogether would have been a better idea for Intel at this point rather than trying to re-launch it. The chip maker designed the chip resting on various assumptions about the future of computing and the CPU architectures, but the company failed on accuracy levels.

However, this is not the first time when an alternative to x86 has been sought, and the failure to it is blamed on the microarchitecture for perceived deficiencies compared to ARM. Though the search has always been there for an alternative to x86, Itanium was never the right option, says a report from Extremetech. Itanium was being designed on the assumptions that supplying instructions, scheduling and parallelism entirely to the computer will guarantee a higher performing CPU architecture, but it never turned out to be practical.

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