Sometimes you might have seen on some Microsoft sites or some download sites there are download links available for Windows x86, Windows x64 and Windows x64 Itanium as well, and wondered what Itanium x64 stood for. Itanium refers to a processor architecture for server operating systems, and has also been called were called IA-64where IA stood for Intel Architecture.
64-bit Windows Itanium explained
IA-64 uses the Intel Itanium architecture which is intended for enterprise servers and high performance computing systems. It was released in 2001 but its performance fell short of expectations, and it quickly sank like the Titanic – prompting some critics to call it a Itanic!
On the other hand, AMD designed the x86-64 processor, which both ran 32-bit software at native hardware speed and offered 64-bit (AMD64) memory support. It’s called x86-64 or now just x64. x64 is actually a Microsoft term and stands for Extended 64.
While initially Microsoft supported the Itanium processor configuration, it later dropped Itanium support due to lack of market interest. The main problem with Itanium was that it was not backwards compatible, in that it was not able to run x86 software effectively. It could only run x64 software.
Subsequently, Intel also decided to introduce this x64 extension in its own x86-based processors. Extended Memory 64 or EM64T technology allowed processors such as the Intel Xeon processor to allow 32-bit platforms to access larger amounts of memory supported by 64-bit platforms. It is this architecture that we use now, as a 64-bit processor in our desktop and laptop computers.
Microsoft Windows XP and Windows Server 2008 R2 were the last versions of the Windows operating system to support Itanium. Later versions of Windows did not support 64-bit Itanium. Development of the Itanium versions of Visual Studio and SQL Server was also subsequently discontinued.
Am I using Windows Itanium 64 bit
Users running older operating systems can, if they wish, find out which systems they are using. To do this, open CMD, type the following and press Enter:
wmic cpu get architecture
Here are the possible values:
- 0 means x86
- 6 stands for Itanium
- 9 means x64
So, when referring to the 64-bit architecture, technically one needs to be a bit more specific because there are two main 64-bit hardware architectures. The first true 64-bit architecture was launched by Intel with this Itanium processor.
What we’re using now is the “backwards compatible” 64-bit extension of the 32-bit architecture, developed first by AMD and later by Intel.