Not worth the RISC
Intel launched the Xeon 7500 series server CPUs - codenamed Nehalem EX - last week, with the higher-end server market as the target. The thing is, that was also the target of its Itanium project, which aimed to beat RISC processors at their own game.
If you're left with the impression that that the Xeon 7500 launch renders Itanium a tad redundant, it looks like you're not alone. Microsoft recently announced that the R2 iteration of Windows Server 2008 will be the last to support Itanium. The same goes for SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010.
This was announced by Microsoft senior technical product manager - Dan Reger - in a blog post. He stressed that, in keeping with Microsoft's support lifecycle policy, Microsoft will cease mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems on 9 July 2013, but there will be extended support until 10 July 2018.
"The natural evolution of the x86 64-bit ("x64") architecture has led to the creation of processors and servers which deliver the scalability and reliability needed for today's "mission-critical" workloads," blogged Reger. "Just this week, both Intel and AMD have released new high core-count processors, and servers with 8 or more x64 processors have now been announced by a full dozen server manufacturers."
In other words, Itanium is no longer worth it.