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Itanium

Definition

Itanium is a family of 64-bit microprocessors designed by Intel and Hewlett-Packard (HP), first released in 2001. These processors use an instruction set architecture called IA-64, which is intended to significantly increase the performance of high-end computing applications and workloads. Due to its niche market and poor adoption, Intel discontinued the Itanium series in 2018.

Phonetic

The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Itanium” is: /ɪˈteɪniəm/

Key Takeaways

  1. Itanium is a 64-bit microprocessor architecture designed by Intel and Hewlett-Packard for high-performance computing applications.
  2. It uses an Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing (EPIC) architecture that allows multiple instructions to be executed in parallel, improving performance and efficiency.
  3. Despite its technical capabilities, Itanium saw limited commercial success, largely due to its high cost, complexity, and competition from more popular x86-64 processors.

Importance

Itanium is an essential term in the technological world as it refers to a family of 64-bit microprocessors developed jointly by Intel and Hewlett-Packard.

Introduced in 2001, Itanium was designed to support the growing need for increased computing power, high-performance processing, and scalability in enterprise-level applications.

Itanium-based systems utilize a unique architecture called Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing (EPIC), allowing multiple instructions to be executed simultaneously.

This improved parallelism and efficiency in processing large data sets and complex tasks, making Itanium processors crucial for various industries such as scientific research, engineering simulations, and high-performance computing.

While Itanium’s market presence dwindled over time due to the rise of alternative processors and architectures like x86-64, it remains an important milestone in the evolution of microprocessor technology.

Explanation

Itanium is a family of 64-bit microprocessors developed by Intel in collaboration with Hewlett-Packard. Conceived in the mid-1990s, its main purpose was to provide the IT industry with a more powerful, efficient, and reliable computing platform for enterprise-level applications and mission-critical systems.

Aimed at addressing computing challenges such as higher processing speeds, scalability, and enhanced reliability, Itanium processors use a unique instruction set architecture (ISA) known as Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing (EPIC). EPIC technology enables these processors to execute multiple instructions simultaneously, making them ideal for handling complex and sizable tasks commonly faced within large-scale businesses and government organizations. Designed to flourish in environments that demand high levels of performance, such as database management, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and high-performance computing (HPC), Itanium processors support various operating systems, including HP-UX, Linux, and Windows.

In addition to high processing power, the Itanium architecture is equipped with advanced features like error checking, advanced memory management, and fault tolerance, which contributes to their exceptional reliability in running mission-critical applications. Despite their notable advantages, Itanium processors have gradually lost favor in the IT market to alternative platforms, predominantly in recent years due to the rise of increasingly powerful x86-64 processors.

However, Itanium continues to be utilized for specific niche applications where their unique architectural features provide unparalleled benefits.

Examples of Itanium

Hewlett-Packard (HP) servers based on Itanium: HP was one of the major supporters of the Itanium architecture, and they introduced a range of high-end servers and workstations based on this technology. The HP Integrity server line utilized Itanium processors, specifically designed for mission-critical applications, database management systems, and large-scale enterprise computing. These servers were used by organizations requiring high reliability and performance, such as telecommunications, financial services, and government agencies. The HP Integrity NonStop servers, for instance, were aimed at providing maximum scalability and fault tolerance.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR): In the early 2000s, NCAR used Itanium-based IBM eServer systems for their weather and climate simulations. These highly complex computational tasks require significant processing power and memory capacity to provide accurate predictions and analyze trends. The Itanium architecture offered the required high-performance computing capacity to meet these needs, making it an essential component of NCAR’s research infrastructure.

Large-scale research institutions: Several research institutions and universities worldwide adopted Itanium-based systems for high-performance computing applications. For example, the Tokyo Institute of Technology used Itanium-based systems to develop T2K Open Supercomputer, which was one of the world’s fastest supercomputers in the mid-2000s. Itanium processors provided the necessary processing power and large cache sizes to support advanced research and scientific simulations in various fields, including life sciences, physics, chemistry, and engineering.

Itanium FAQ

What is Itanium?

Itanium is a family of 64-bit Intel microprocessors that implement a unique instruction set architecture (ISA) called IA-64. It was designed for enterprise server and high-performance computing applications, offering high levels of parallelism and reliability.

When was Itanium first released?

The first Itanium processor, codenamed Merced, was introduced in June 2001.

What is the main difference between Itanium and other Intel processors?

Itanium uses a completely different instruction set architecture called IA-64, which is specifically designed for high-performance computing and offers advanced features such as parallelism and error checking. In contrast, other Intel processors like Xeon use the traditional x86 architecture.

What happened to the Itanium processor series?

Due to limited market success and the rise of x86-64 processors, Intel decided to shift its focus to other product lines. In 2019, Intel announced the discontinuation of the Itanium processor series, with the last shipment occurring in July 2021.

Can I still find systems with Itanium processors?

Although new Itanium processors are no longer available, you may still find used systems and legacy hardware with Itanium processors. Keep in mind that support and availability of components might be limited due to the age and discontinuation of the product line.

Related Technology Terms

  • 64-bit architecture
  • Intel
  • Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing (EPIC)
  • High-performance computing
  • IA-64

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