Itanium UnixWare

The Itanium UnixWare project eventually merged with IBM’s AIX under Project Monterey.


Intel produced a much-hyped chip called the Itanium. It was supposed to blow the Pentium chip out of the water quickly. Many OS vendors tried to be the first to boot their OS on this new chip. The five person Unix team, for which I was a member, was the first to do so. This achievement led to SCO working with IBM and eventually to Project Monterey.

The chip was ‘highly piped’; several concurrent coding streams would run, resulting in a parallelism that would deliver on the speed promise. A breakthrough in compiler technology, as well as coders who understood the paradigm, was needed to realize the speed potential of the chip. That part never really materialized.

There was a massive set of Unix binaries complied for the incompatible Pentium chip. Itanium provided Pentium emulation at the hardware level. The initial version of Unix depended on this feature because most user-level commands (I.e., ‘ls’) were run as existing binaries.