devxlogo

Itanic

Definition

Itanic is a nickname for the Intel Itanium processor, a family of 64-bit processors developed by Intel to supersede the x86 architecture. The term “Itanic” is a combination of “Itanium” and “Titanic,” suggesting that the project was a large and expensive failure, as it did not gain widespread adoption. This was due to factors such as high production costs, limited software support, and the dominance of the x86 architecture in the market.

Phonetic

The phonetic spelling of the keyword “Itanic” would be: /aɪˈtænɪk/

Key Takeaways

  1. The Itanic was a famous, unsinkable luxury ship that tragically sank on its maiden voyage in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg.
  2. The disaster led to the loss of over 1,500 lives, making it one of the deadliest commercial maritime disasters in history.
  3. Following the Itanic tragedy, improvements in maritime safety measures, like lifeboat requirements and radio communication protocols, were implemented to prevent future catastrophes.

Importance

The term “Itanic” is important because it refers to the commonly viewed technology failure of the Intel Itanium line of processors. It relates to the ill-fated “Titanic” ship within the technology context.

Introduced in the early 2000s, Itanium was a 64-bit processor architecture designed for high-performance computing server applications. Intel, along with partner Hewlett-Packard (HP), invested heavily in the development and marketing of the Itanium platform.

However, due to compatibility issues with the widely-adopted x86 architectures, high costs, and underwhelming performance compared to other alternatives, the Itanium line never gained wide market acceptance and garnered the nickname “Itanic,” symbolizing its sinking trajectory much like the infamous ship it parodies. As a result, the term serves as a noteworthy example of a high-profile technology project that failed to deliver on its promises and expectations.

Explanation

Itanic, a nickname derived from the Intel Itanium processor, is a family of 64-bit central processing units (CPUs) designed by Intel to revolutionize the high-performance computing and enterprise server markets. This processor architecture, formally known as IA-64, was developed during the late 1990s in collaboration with Hewlett Packard. The primary purpose of Itanium was to provide a futuristic server-based computing platform with high levels of parallelism, scalability, and reliability to meet the increasing demands of modern data centers, cloud computing, and high-performance computing systems.

Itanic processors were designed to provide advanced features such as the integration of explicit parallelism, hardware-based error correcting code, and a large number of general-purpose registers to optimize performance for a broad range of computational workloads. Unfortunately, Itanic faced several challenges, including poor performance when running existing x86 applications and limited software support in its early days. It struggled to gain widespread adoption due to its incompatibility with the dominant x86 software ecosystem and its initial high price.

The emergence of powerful and more efficient x86-64 competitors, such as AMD’s Opteron and Intel’s own Xeon processors, further impacted Itanium’s marketshare. While Itanic was initially touted as a potential industry game-changer, it eventually became synonymous with an expensive and overhyped technology that failed to live up to its lofty expectations. Development of the Itanium processors ultimately ceased, and Intel announced the last shipment of Itanium 9700 series processors in January 2021, marking the end of the Itanic era.

Examples of Itanic

The Itanium, often referred to as “Itanic,” was a family of 64-bit processors developed by Intel in collaboration with Hewlett-Packard (HP). The itanium technology was introduced with the intention of revolutionizing the server and high-performance computing (HPC) markets. Despite its initial hype, Itanium struggled to gain widespread adoption and support, becoming known as the “Itanic” due to its sinking fate similar to the Titanic. Here are three real world examples of the Itanium technology:

HP Integrity Servers: HP was one of the primary partners in developing the Itanium architecture, and their Integrity server line was designed specifically for Itanium processors. These servers were used for running critical business applications, supporting a variety of operating systems, including HP-UX, Windows Server, Linux, and OpenVMS.

SGI Altix Systems: Silicon Graphics Incorporated (SGI), a high-performance computing manufacturer, utilized Itanium processors for their Altix line of servers and supercomputers. These systems catered to customers in fields such as scientific research, defense, and weather forecasting. The Altix 3000, introduced in 2003, and the Altix 4700, introduced in 2007, were two notable products in this line.

Bull Escala Servers: Bull, a French computer manufacturer, implemented Itanium processors in its Escala line of servers. These servers were aimed at large-scale computing environments and data centers, with a focus on performance, scalability, and reliability. The Escala E-series servers supported both Windows and Linux operating systems.

Itanic FAQ

What is the Itanic?

The Itanic is a nickname given to the Intel Itanium processor, a family of 64-bit server and workstation processors. The name “Itanic” is a reference to the ill-fated ocean liner “Titanic” due to the processor’s perceived failure to meet its intended performance and market goals.

Why did the Itanic fail to meet expectations?

There were several factors that contributed to the Itanic’s failure in the market, including delays in its initial release, less-than-impressive performance, high costs, and poor compatibility with existing software. It also faced stiff competition from AMD’s x86-64 architecture, which gained widespread adoption in the industry.

What was the target market for the Itanic?

The Itanium processor was primarily aimed at the high-end server and workstation markets. Intel envisioned it as a replacement for their x86 architecture in these applications, providing a more powerful and scalable solution for enterprise infrastructure.

Was the Itanic completely phased out?

Yes, the Itanium processor endured a steady decline in adoption and relevance over the years. In January 2019, Intel officially announced the end of Itanium processor family production, with the last orders accepted on January 30, 2020, and the last shipments sent on July 29, 2021.

What was the successor to the Itanic?

Intel has since shifted focus to its Xeon processor lineup, which is based on the popular and more widely supported x86-64 architecture. The Xeon processors now serve as Intel’s flagship products for the server and workstation market, offering higher performance, better compatibility, and improved energy efficiency.

Related Technology Terms

  • Itanium Architecture
  • 64-bit processors
  • Intel Corporation
  • Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing (EPIC)
  • HP-UX operating system

Sources for More Information

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents

More Terms