LINUX KERNEL

Overnight the mainline Linux kernel has retired support for Intel Itanium (IA-64) processors.

In recent years the Itanium support in the Linux kernel has went downhill with not many users left testing new kernels on aging Itanium servers. There also hasn’t been any major active contributors to the Itanium code for keeping it maintained and making any serious improvements to the architecture code. On and off for months there’s been talk of retiring Itanium from the Linux kernel and now it’s finally happened.

With Linux 6.6 expected to be this year’s Long-Term Support (LTS) kernel version, there was the proposal recently to drop Itanium in Linux 6.7 and indeed it’s successfully happened.

Intel Itanium

Due to the IA-64 kernel code being unmaintained and no one willing to step up to keep it going, the 65k lines of code for supporting it have been removed.

The asm-generic pull cleared out all of the IA-64 architecture support for a “well-earned retirement.” Anyone still with IA-64 hardware around will want to stick to Linux 6.6 LTS.

Intel Itanium modern logo

The most recent Itanium processors were the Itanium 9700 “Kitson” processors released in 2017 on a 32nm process and quite similar to the Itanium 9500 “Poulson” processors released in 2012. While in the early days of Itanium there was hopes it would eventually replace x86/x86_64, that just never came to be with the success of x86_64. Farewell, Itanium!

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