Intel disclosed perhaps one of the worst-kept secrets in its history at its Developer Forum in San Francisco on Monday, saying it will add 64-bit instructions to its Xeon processors.
In his keynote speech, CEO Craig Barrett said that beginning in the second quarter, Intel will add 64-bit memory-extension technology to its IA-32 architecture for server and workstation processors.
Dell, one of the vendors that will use the technology, said it will have PowerEdge servers and Precision workstations using the Xeons with 64-bit instructions by year's end.
"This will allow software developers to really continue to drive innovation from what used to be strictly high-end functionality into the workstations," says Neil Hand, director of Dell's Enterprise Server Group worldwide marketing.
The move would let Dell offer customers the ability to convert 32-bit systems into 64-bit systems inside the installed infrastructure, he says. It could also help entice users of RISC and Unix systems to Intel-based systems, he says.
Microsoft is expected to create software that uses the new processor capability in the second half of the year, Barrett said. The announcement was part of what he called the "digital transformation" of technology and business.
"It's not just a piece of silicon. It's not just a piece of software. It's a whole ecosystem," Barrett said. "IT infrastructure will govern economic opportunities going forward--and there is no place to hide from digital technology."