It's been seven years since we last reported on the Itanium line of processors, but it appears that article just wasn't destined to be our last on the subject. Intel has just added four new processors to its Itanium family. Now, this article does have a chance to be our last report on the ill-fated CPU lineup, since Intel confirmed to PCWorld that these processors will be its final Itanium chips.
|Itanium 9720||4/8||1.73 GHz||20 MB||130 W|
|Itanium 9740||8/16||2.13 GHz||24 MB||170 W|
|Itanium 9750||4/8||2.53 GHz||32 MB||170 W|
|Itanium 9760||8/16||2.66 GHz||32 MB||170 W|
The new Itanium 9700-series processors are built on Intel's somewhat long-in-the-tooth 32-nm process. There are four variants: the quad-core Itanium 9720 and 9750, and the octa-core Itanium 9740 and 9760. All models feature Intel's hyper-threading, Turbo Boost, and virtualization technologies, and have a relatively high TDP. The three higher-end models have a 170W TDP, while the lightly-clocked Itanium 9270 has a 130W TDP.
Intel originally launched the Itanium family way back in 2001 with grandiose plans for making it the successor to the x86 architecture, but those plans never quite materialized. While the associated instruction set was ambitious and there certainly was demand for 64-bit support, upgrading to Itanium involved both new hardware and a new ecosystem of software from a variety of companies. AMD's 64-bit extensions to the x86 instruction set proved to be much easier to adopt, seeing as even Intel ended up cross-licensing them for its Pentium 4, Xeon, and Core processors.
The primary destination for the Itanium processors will likely be Hewlett-Packard Enterprise's Integrity servers, which have been powered by Itanium CPUs for many years. Intel no doubt wants to avoid the legal troubles Oracle faced when it tried to stop supporting these servers in 2012. The new Itanium processors, then, appear to be one last round of chips made to satisfy a contract with HPE. We'd love to say that Itanium will be missed, but we very much doubt that's the case.