Look back: After Intel had left no traces in the computer world for 20 years, Intel finally stopped shipping its Itanium processors last Thursday. While the company shifted its focus back to the more popular x86 instruction set architecture (ISA) in 2004, it kept Itanium going for another decade and a half until it was put on the cutting block in 2019.
Itanium was the offspring of a partnership between HP and Intel in the 1990s, when the range of ISAs used was far more diverse than the x86 and Arm titans of today. The IA-64 architecture was designed to break into the realm of 64-bit computing, which was exotic at the time, and to replace the proprietary solutions used by many individual companies.
However, the project was quickly dubbed "Itanic" because of the amount of money spent on it, its ambition, and its eventual results. The Itanium promise was drowned by a lack of outdated 32-bit support and difficulties working with the architecture for writing and maintaining software.
The dream of a single dominant ISA would only come true a few years later, but thanks to the AMD64 extension of the established x86 instruction set. Then-Senior VP (and now CEO) Pat Gelsinger was leading Intel's Digital Enterprise Group at the time, and when 64-bit capability and multi-core computing came to x86, the company's Xeons proved much better suited to market demands .
The rest is history – the old, reliable x86-64 is still the ISA of choice today, only challenged by Arm and has significantly outperformed its Itanium cousin in terms of both core count and clock speeds. Even so, Intel continued to work on Itanium over the years until the final generation was announced in 2017.
That finally came to a conclusion this week when the last of the Itanium silicon shipped. But if you're an extremely brave corporate user with a very specific platform from two decades ago, The Register seems to have spotted a whole load of Itanium parts in the used market. Go wild.