It’s not news that the Itanium processor is doomed in its current incarnations. Microsoft has dropped support, as has Red Hat – meaning only HP supports it with an active platform in the US (with HPUX).
The Itanim should have been Intel’s chance to totally walk away with the processor market – but they blew it by totally breaking x86 compatibility, and not in a good way: their bungle allowed AMD to develop the x86-64 extensions that are now ubiquitous – even on Intel’s own processors (though they call them EMD64).
With the multi-core industry in full swing, Intel has a chance to make the Itanium relevant once again – package it along side x86-64 cores in a new CPU, a la IBM’s Cell processor.
With Microsoft now looking to branch Windows onto ARM with Windows 8, the x86 architecture is no longer the only [major] game in town.
If Intel were to co-package the Itanium and x86 cores on one chip, or at least in one package, they could start to reap the benefits of both worlds – keep the high-end, “mission critical” market they have that lives on HPUX (though “mission critical” and “HPUX” don’t jive in my head), and bring into that realm the x86 world.
Hey, it’s a thought.