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Intel Corp.’s high-end Itanium server chip, first introduced in 2001, is being pushed aside as the company’s x86-based Xeon chip slowly invades the older microprocessor’s market.

With today’s official release of Intel’s 15-core Xeon E7 v2 chip, experts say Itanium’s end-of-life is one step nearer.

The most recent version of Itanium, codenamed Poulson was released in 2012. Another version called Kittson will be released in 2015, but it may well be the end of the product line.

“Itanium is in maintenance mode,” said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. “It’s a slow and painful death.”

Hewlett-Packard servers running HP-UX, Open VMS or Linux operating systems were the main market of Itanium chips. However, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is positioning its Xeon E7 v2 chip in the market as a high-performance alternative that can run Windows and Linux systems.

Intel has already scaled back its Kittson development and said the processor will be made using the older 32-nonometre manufacturing process instead of the latest 22-nanometre process.

Intel will promote x85 and Xeon but will continue to provide Itanium to customers running Unix-based systems, according to Patrick Buddenbaum, director of enterprise segment marketing at Intel.

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