Intel’s Next Generation Itanium ‘Kittson’ IA64 Processor Detailed – 32nm Process, 9300/9500 Socket Compatible


Intel's Itanium series of processors is the somewhat neglected lineup of IA64 chips. While x86 reigns supreme in the tech world (mostly), some target niches are still occupied heavily by IA64. The last chip was "Poulson" and was revealed in 2012. Intel however has stated that the chip giant remains dedicated to the IA64 ecosystem for atleast one more revision. This statement comes in conjunction with the revelation that it will be launching the next generation 'Kittson' processor on the 32nm node.

Intel Itanium Processor 9500Die shot of Intel's Itanium 9500 Processor. @Intel Public Domain

IA64 eco system to get its (probably) final update - Intel's Kittson processor on the 32nm node

Itanium Architecture is very interesting. It is the fourth most widely deployed branding behind x86_64, POWER and SPARC. It has also faced quite a lot of neglect at the hands of Intel. While Intel has been relentlessly polishing its 'Xeon' series every year, the original IA64 (which originated at IBM labs btw) remains on the shelf catching dust. The last processor released was Poulson, a 12-wide issue that was pretty advanced for its time. The Itanium 9500 series processors were designed for scalability in mind and targeted dead center at the HPC market.

“Intel remains committed to the Intel Itanium product line and to the delivery of the next-generation Intel Itanium processor, code named ‘Kittson’. [It] will be manufactured on Intel’s 32nm process technology and will be socket compatible with the existing Itanium 9300/9500 platforms, providing customers with performance improvements, investment protection, and a seamless upgrade path for existing systems.” Source: Kitguru

Here's the thing however. While in its heyday, IA64 had promise, it was abandoned by most of the key players for the x86-64 ecosystem. As of now, little enough demand remains for Intel to consider one final product albeit one that has been downgraded. Kittson was originally supposed to be on the 22nm process, so the downgrade to 32nm speaks volumes. Currently, the last player in the Itanium ecosystem is HP. However, HP is in process of transitioning to the x86-64 ecosystem as well, and once it does that, there will be virtually no demand. Intel has also made it very clear that they have not announced any product after Kittson - which leads me to believe that Kittson will be the last remnant of a soon-dead platform. IA64 was always one of the more interesting products from Intel, but it looks like its the end of the road for them.