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Future Itanium and Xeon Processors Socket-Intercompatible

In what could be the very first time two different machine architectures share a platform, future versions of Intel's Xeon and Itanium processors could be socket-compatible. Intel Itanium is based on the Itanium64 (IA64) machine architecture, while Xeon is x86-64 based. Intel plans to implement its common platform strategy with the next generation models of the two, that's "Kittson" Itanium, and "Haswell" Xeon.

This level of convergence could make it easier for companies to deploy select amounts of Itanium and Xeon processors in their data-centers, to suit specific tasks, and save money on buying common platforms for both. Itanium processors are typically preferred for in mission-critical environments, where there's close to zero margin for error (think military, medical, and space-exploration); while Xeon is good at handling heavy serial processing loads (think servers, database management, cloud). Introduction of the converged platform is expected in the 2013-2015 time range, using Xeon "Haswell" launch as a point of reference.

Source: X-bit Labs

Microsoft to End IA64 Support

Microsoft plans to gradually end support for the Intel Itanium IA64 architecture with this generation of Windows, SQL Server, and Visual Studio software. The Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008 R2, and Visual Studio 2010, will be the last versions to support IA64. Mainstream support for IA64, for Windows Server 2008 R2 will end end on July 9, 2013, while in accordance with Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy, extended support will last till another five years past 2013, ending on July 10, 2018. Till that time, Microsoft hopes that the industry will adapt itself extensively to the x86_64 (x64) architecture for enterprise hardware.

This change establishes x86_64 as the de-facto 64-bit computer architecture across all segments of computing, as far as Microsoft's market is concerned. A majority of IA64 users use the HP-UX operating system, with Microsoft Windows Server having a paltry 5 percent usage share. Having a small market share with IA64, Red Hat had last year, announced that it would end support for IA64 since the tiny userbase didn't justify having continued development of RHEL for IA64. For consumer operating systems, Microsoft ended IA64 support with Windows Vista, leaving only Windows Server versions with it.
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