Lots Of IT Propaganda Whores Here
First, I have to say I was with HP until 1997, when PA RISC was still going very well. These machines were undestructible by accident. You had to flood them with water or run over the box with a tank. They did simply not crash like the Win 3.x crap we also had at HP then. I got them crashing only by means of "ping of death" or "crashme". In normal operation the OS never died. You got "bus error" from faulty software and that was it. HP CC was excellent it optomizing scientific code. No need to hand-optimize with -O2. PA RISC hardware was generally leading ALL processors and the only serious competitor was Alpha of DEC. x86 was nowhere near PA RISC performance.
I don't know much internals after 1997, I only heard Itanium was consuming massive amounts of power and had a consequential cooling problem. Which true HP engineers would have found a solution for, no doubt. Water coooling, if required.
But the VLIW (which Itanium is the latest incarnation of) concept is very interesting and promising, especially when Loop Unrolling is possible. Itanium did have very impressive floating point performance in the past and I do also think that the strengths of VLIW could be exposed if the programmer is aware of them.
"The VLIW architecture is growing in popularity, particularly in the embedded market"
So when commenters with their shallow hate come out and try to smear HP for "Itanic", I do think this is a very low point for IT people. Or maybe the shitlobbers are just professional propaganda whores ?
Very much like Boeing with the 787, HP tried to do something very innovative in several ways. First, technology innovation with VLIW. Secondly "outsourcing" was the big rage in the 90s and senior HP management thought it would be a good idea to hand over CPU design expertise to Intel and to hand over compiler development to some indian outfit. Operating systems and databases could be bought from MS and Oracle. HP leadership thought they could cut expensive American engineers out of the equation and still make massive revenue and profits, just as they did with PA RISC and HP9000 and HP3000.
In hindsight, we all know that it was wrong for HP to treat their crown jewels (HP-UX, MPE, PA RISC, Allbase/SQL) and their creators with that amount of disresepect. But then it was 100% OK to dream the pinko-liberal new-age dream of "let's rake in tons of cash by using third-world labour". After all, "programmers are all the same, why should I use the expensive, experienced and slightly disobedient white guy if I can get a brown guy at 1/10th of the cost ?"
Still, I do think it is irrational and nasty to badmouth innovative technology like VLIW. SPARC is not bringing anything better on the table and if HP had retained those expensive, experienced Americans and their own design and manufacturing capability, they would either have a competitive PA RISC or VLIW machine by now. They were leaders in the 90s with two teams (PA RISC and Alpha). Intel was far, far from their performance levels.
Today, Itanium is, very much like the IBM S/360/390 architecture, at the heart of hundreds of billions of dollars of business transactions every year. These systems simply work, instead of crapping out for random, stupid reasons such as "too cheap capacitors". They are business workhorses and they often run the Oracle database management system. HP was in fact a major part of the Oracle salesforce, as HP was falling over each other in selling/implementing "hot", external stuff such as Windows, Oracle and SAP.
It is just a tiny bit of justice that Oracle has been ordered to continue to support the Itanium architecture as Oracle would not be where they are without the help of thousands of HP engineers and salesmen.