Years after the 64-bit Itanium processor they created together has failed to make a big splash in the industry, Intel and HP have ended their microprocessor development alliance. As a result of the dissolution of the alliance, Intel will take all Itanium development in-house and will continue evolving the oft-maligned chip on its own. Both companies, however, pledged to continue supporting Itanium.
Under terms of the HP pullout, Intel will hire HP's Itanium technical design team, which is based in Fort Collins, Colorado, and employs several hundred workers. And HP will continue investing in Itanium, with the company announcing a $3 billion commitment to the chip. Whether that figure includes money the company has already spent on the decade-long drive to bring Itanium to market, however, is unclear.
Late to market and underpowered when it arrived, the Itanium never really found much of an audience. The Itanium alliance dates back to 1988, when Intel and HP first began collaborating on future processor designs; the first Itanium chip shipped in 2001. In recent years, the Itanium has been overshadowed by Intel's 32-bit Xeon chip, which is based on a more compatible x86 design, and the AMD and Intel x64 products, which are also compatible but offer 64-bit capabilities as well.
Recently, Intel started planning an integrated processor future in which x64 and Itanium chips would work off the same motherboard. But my guess is that we're now seeing the beginning of the end of the Itanium, which never really caught on with volume customers and likely never will.