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An ex-Intel engineer has commented on the recent news about cancellation of NetBurst-based processors Tejas and Jayhawk in a public news-group. Apparently, at some point Intel wanted to pour certain IA64 functionality into the processors, but at another, the world’s largest chipmaker decided not to implement the capability due to an unknown reason.

Tejas: The Way IA64 Should Go Mass

The code-named Tejas processor was meant to be a late incarnation of Intel Pentium 4 product featuring a massively-redesigned NetBurst architecture. The IA64 functionality and out-of-order execution that were meant to be featured by the part might be a signal for software developers for migration to the 64-bit chips with a kind of EPIC architecture.

After the Tejas, Intel planned to roll-out some more powerful offerings, including dual-core products, that should inherit all the capabilities of their father; but at the end the company decided to trim the IA64 capabilities and then killed the projects code-named Tejas and Jayhawk, a server version of Tejas.

Ace’s Hardware web-site has found some comments made by an ex-Intel engineer Andy Glew on a news-group, commenting the abandonment of the Tejas and Jayhawk:

“The Tejas project has been in trouble for years – in my humble opinion, beginning with when they decided not to make an out-of-order x86 chip that could also run Itanium code (by converting the Itanium VLIW to uops that could run out-of-order)...”

Engineers Resign from Intel

In addition to the re-shuffled plans, Intel’s Tejas project reportedly faced resignation of numerous developers:

“Tejas lost people all over the place, such as McDermott, who set up the Intel Austin facility, Sprangle (who left Texas for Intel Oregon, I am guessing when it became apparent that Tejas was not going to do any new micro-architecture), Brad Burgess and Doug Beard (now at AMD). I think even Marvin Denman is gone...”

Furthermore, there were some issues with internal organization of the company’s development centers:

“Also, it became obvious that Intel’s Texas Design Center was not going to be the next major processor group, when Intel acquired the Massachusetts Alpha 21464 group that is now doing Tanglewood/Tukwila.  Given the sorry state of the Itanium, I wonder when we will hear an announcement involving that group...”

NetBurst Not Dead Yet?

But the ex-developer of the P6 architecture and evaluator of the IA64 within an IA32 microprocessor believes that the Pentium 4 and the NetBurst architecture is not really dead at this point:

“I am not so sure that we should rule the Pentium 4 micro-architecture dead yet, though.  Or, at least, some of its key ideas are still valid: mainly, eliminate unnecessary logic to make things run fast. Personally, I think the aggressive circuit stuff for the fireball was overkill…”

We will never know why Intel actually discarded an idea to introduce some kind of IA64 into the mainstream market, as the transition could be favorable for the Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker. After all, Intel has chosen to incorporate 64-bit capability that is similar to what its arch-rival Advanced Micro Devices had developed. Now that there are rumours that the next-generation of Intel’s desktop processors will feature revamped P6 architecture, it is absolutely not clear when and if Intel’s IA64 makes it to the mass market.

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