The company announced the discontinuation of the Itanium family in January 2019, marking July 29, 2021 as the last date for the final batch of Itanium shipments.
While many vendors shipped servers with the Itanium chips, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) was the primary driver for the platform. Itanium-based systems were aggressively marketed by HPE, which even developed an operating system to power the servers. However, as Intel’s last Itanium customer, HPE too stopped placing orders at the end of last year.
The last of the Itaniums were the Itanium 9700-series (codenamed Kittson) processors that were discontinued in 2019.
Going out with a whimper
According to Tom’s Hardware, based on the IA-64 Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), Itanium processors promised more efficiency because they lacked the baggage of legacy software support in traditional x86 processors.
The Itanium architecture called for a software compiler to calculate in advance which instructions can be executed in parallel, to prevent the processor from wasting instruction cycles.
And that’s where things went south, as the processor was notoriously difficult to write a good compiler for, and failed to build a developer ecosystem around it leading to its eventual demise.
“HPE no longer accepts orders for new Itanium hardware, and Intel stopped accepting orders a year ago. While Intel is still officially shipping chips until July 29, 2021, it’s unlikely that any such orders actually exist,” wrote Linus Torvalds, principal developer of the Linux kernel, as he orphaned the Itanium code in the kernel.