Intel on Thursday notified its partners and customers that it would be discontinuing its Itanium 9700-series (codenamed Kittson) processors, the last Itanium chips on the market. Under their product discontinuance plan, Intel will cease shipments of Itanium CPUs in mid-2021, or a bit over two years from now. The impact to hardware vendors should be minimal – at this point HP Enterprise is the only company still buying the chips – but it nonetheless marks the end of an era for Intel and their interesting experiment into a non-x86 VLIW-style architecture.

The current-generation octa and quad-core Itanium 9700-series processors were introduced by Intel in 2017, in the process becoming the final processors based on the IA-64 ISA. Kittson for its part was a clockspeed-enhanced version of the Itanium 9500-series ‘Poulson’ microarchitecture launched in 2012, and featured a 12 instructions per cycle issue width, 4-way Hyper-Threading, and multiple RAS capabilities not found on Xeon processors back then. It goes without saying that the writing has been on the wall for Itanium for a while now, and Intel has been preparing for an orderly wind-down for quite some time.

At this point, the only systems that actually use Itanium 9700-series CPUs are the HPE Integrity Superdome machines, which are running the HP-UX 11i v3 operating system and launched in mid-2017. So Intel's sole Itanium customer will have to submit their final Itanium orders – as well as orders for Intel’s C112/C114 scalable memory buffers – by January 30, 2020. Intel will then ship its last Itanium CPUs by July 29, 2021. HPE for its part will support their systems through at least December 31, 2025, but depending on how much stock HPE wants to keep on hand, they'll presumably stop selling them a few years sooner than that.

With the EOL plan for the Itanium 9700-series CPUs in place, it certainly means that this is the end of the road for the whole Itanium project, both for HPE and Intel. The former has been offering Xeon-based NonStop and Integrity servers for years now, whereas the latter effectively ceased development of new CPUs featuring the IA-64 ISA earlier this decade. The machines running these CPUs will of course continue their operations through at least late 2025 (or until HPE drops HP-UX 11i v3) simply because mission-critical systems are bought for the long-haul, but Intel will cease shipments of Itaniums in 2.5 years from now.

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Source: Intel



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  • SH3200 - Thursday, January 31, 2019 - link

    isnt itanium the only meltdown immune chip in existence ? Reply
  • GreenReaper - Thursday, January 31, 2019 - link

    No, there are others, like AMD's architectures. But Itanium *is* one of the few Spectre-immune chips, as long as the software doesn't itself use speculative loads, or else does so in a secure way. This is because it simply doesn't try to predict in hardware - which is one reason it's slower than x86.

    I suspect if Itanium had been more of a success, a lot of that success would still have been built on speculative loads. Of course it might've been easier to fix that way - you could recompile the software, rather than add a firmware hack and software workarounds or buy a new CPU.
  • Krysto - Friday, February 1, 2019 - link

    Likely not immune to the two HT bugs found last year, though. Considering Itanium was 4-way HT, that one was probably a big issue, too. Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Saturday, February 2, 2019 - link

    "Likely not immune to the two HT bugs made public last year, though." Reply
  • SarahKerrigan - Saturday, February 2, 2019 - link

    Itanium was only 2-way multithreaded, not 4-way, and there's little enough resource sharing that I doubt it is vulnerable to those issues. It's basically just fast context switches (Switch-on-Event Multithreading, Intel calls it), not the aggressively shared core that Intel ships for x86 where you can have multiple threads issuing in the same cycle. Reply
  • kaidenshi - Friday, February 1, 2019 - link

    There are a few ARM chips out there that are invulnerable to both Spectre and Meltdown; the Broadcom series used by the Raspberry Pi Foundation for their boards is one:
  • RU482 - Monday, February 4, 2019 - link

    security through obscurity? Reply
  • ilt24 - Thursday, January 31, 2019 - link

    Anton besides HP-UX, you can also run OpenVMS on many of the a Kittson based Integrity system, although the port to x86_64 is now available to early adopters.

  • SarahKerrigan - Thursday, January 31, 2019 - link

    Not only that - these don't just go into Superdomes like the article says. Superdome2's are big many-socket scalable systems with the sx3000 chipset; there are also a number of smaller HPE systems with the Boxboro-MC chipset (rx2800 i6, bl8x0c i6.) Reply
  • HStewart - Thursday, January 31, 2019 - link

    Intel is being efficient and dropping technologies which did not make even though it was ahead of its time. Quark cpu is also one that Intel drop but that is like market is not a fit for Intel CPU's Reply

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