Red Hat has confirmed that its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) operating system version 6 will not be supported on the IntelItanium processor.
The news, broken by The Register shortly before Christmas, presents another chip in the statue that is the EPIC processor. According to the story, Red Hat’s official statement on the matter, according to the story:
Red Hat is committed to protecting Itanium customers’ investments and to providing these customers with enterprise class support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 through March 2014. During this period, Red Hat will provide support, deliver new features, and enable new Itanium hardware in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 exclusively in accordance with the published RHEL product lifecycle (http://www.redhat.com/security/updates/errata/). In addition, extended support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 for Itanium is available up to March 2017 from selected OEMs.
The next major release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (v6) will not provide support for the Itanium architecture; consequently, all Itanium related development will be incorporated into Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 exclusively.
Although this is certainly not good news for Itanium, it seems as though it presents just another sign of the platform’s slow decline. HP-UX and Windows are the dominant operating systems on Itanium. I don’t know the breakdown of operating systems on Itanium (if you do know, please tell me), but my educated guess is that Linux on Itanium is used mainly in governmental and academic installations.
It should be noted that as far as I know, Novell has not dropped support for Itanium yet, so there is still a viable Linux distro available on that platform. At least for now.
Nevertheless, news like this tends to lead to some hand-wringing and contemplation of Itanium’s initial promise of essentially taking over the chip market. That promise is long gone, and Intel has long since abandoned that claim. Intel, Itanium’s major OEM Hewlett-Packard, and just about everybody on the planet who knows about Itanium, knows that it has found its market in high-end applications and no longer plans on taking over the world. It will most likely continue to decline slowly, with little to no new customers except for those migrating over from old HP PA-RISC architectures.