Court documents reveal HP paid Intel a total of $690 million to keep the Itanium architecture alive until 2017 and updated in a timely manner. The firm needs Itanium because its mission-critical platforms like HP-UX, OpenVMS and NonStop rely on these chips and it will take years to port them to the Xeon architecture.
Back in 2008 the maker of servers paid Intel $440 million in order to keep producing and updating Itanium microprocessors from 2009 to 2014. In 2010, the two companies signed another $250 million deal, which obliged Intel to continue making Itanium central processing units for HP's machines till 2017, according to Wired. Under the terms of the agreements, HP has to pay for chips it gets from Intel, whereas the latter launches Tukwila, Poulson, Kittson and Kittson+ chips in a bid to gradually boost performance of the platform.
Given the fact that Itanium is essentially on life support, it is not surprising that software makers, including Microsoft and Red Hat have already stopped developing software for Itanium. Large makers of servers, Dell and IBM, dropped Itanium back in 2005. In early 2011 Intel discontinued support for Itanium in its C/C++ and Fortran compilers. In fact, Intel has even relocated engineers developing Itanium products onto Xeon-related projects, another signal that the platform will hardly evolve substantially going forward.