Intel confirmed that it has removed the 32-bit instruction set applications from the upcoming Itanium Montecito, requiring users to install 32-bit emulation software. But according to Intel this will be faster anyway.
The disposal of the on-die feature was discovered last week by CNET reporter Joris Evers, who noticed the omission of any mention of x86 platform emulation in an addendum manual for the Montecito platform released by Intel last week, entitled "Dual-Core Update to the Intel Itanium 2 Reference Manual." The update manual refers to the fact that first-generation IA-32 processing support had been moved from the hardware level, to emulation software called "IA-32 Execution Layer." "IA-32 EL is OS-based and is only available after an OS has booted," it states, which is the manual's way of saying it's a program on disk, not microcode on a chip.