Intel Itanium was created together with HP to bring forth a high-performance architecture for heavy and critical operations where there was no room for errors under any circumstances. Intel now says that its Xeon series has surpassed Itanium in in reliability and the question is for how long Itanium will be around.
Itanium is, unlike Intel’s other processors, based on IA64 instead of x86, which means the software for an Itanium processor won’t run on a regular x86 processor from Intel or AMD. What made Itanium unique was that it shipped with a load of RAS functions (Reliability, Availability and Serviceability) that simply means the processor can recover from a crash or other common error phenomena.
The processor architecture that earlier was the nominator for high performance and reliability as according to Intel self been surpassed by the Xeon series, code-named Westmere-EX. Westmere-EX comes with 10 cores, 30 MB L3 cache and is made with 32nm technology. Nehalem-EX was the first processor beside Itanium to ship with over 20-ish RAS functions and already then experts and analysts started questioning Itanium.
Even though Westmere-EX comes with even better RAS functions and higher performance than Itanium Intel promises a continued support for Itanium and says that it comes down to the choice of operating system and if you like HP-UX, OpenVMS, HP NonStop etc Itanium is the way to go. The next generation Itanium processor is called Poulson and will offer twice the performance of Tukwila, but it also revealed that the sucessor to Poulson, Kittson, is under development.
Considering Westmere-EX offers the same, if not better RAS functionality and higher performance, the hope for new Itanium sers is most likely fading away, and those who by products based on Poulson and Kittson are most likely those who have to stick to compatible software based on IA64.