Intel Rolls Out 32/64-Bit Processors

Chipmaker finally offers 64-bit capabilities to compete with chips from AMD.
Business-technology managers interested in 64-bit computing now have a new option: Intel. The world's largest chipmaker Monday introduced Xeon processors that include 64-bit extensions.

Code-named Nocona, the first chip is designed for the workstation market. The company says versions of the 32/64-bit chip for the server market will be available within two months.

The introductions come more than a year after Advanced Micro Devices Inc. unveiled its 32/64-bit Opteron processor, which is offered in systems from top server vendors Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Sun Microsystems.

The chips can handle data in 64-bit chunks, providing some performance improvements over 32-bit chips. But software needs to be tweaked for the platform to achieve the full benefits of the 64-bit extensions that have been added to the chip.

The new Xeons also offer enhancements such as DDR2 memory, PCI Express2, an 800-MHz front-side bus, as well as Extended Memory 64 Technology. The processors will be manufactured in a 90-nanometer process and will utilize Intel's Hyper-Threading technology.

"These new Intel Xeon processor-based platforms bring powerful new technologies to market, providing customers with greater performance and reliability and improved memory and graphics capabilities for their business needs," Abhi Talwalkar, VP and general manager of Intel's Enterprise Platforms Group, said in a statement.

The addition of the 32/64-bit-capable Xeons provide a complete 64-bit path for all enterprise users, Talwalkar said during a conference revealing the new processor. The 32/64-bit Xeons are now available for the workstation market and will soon be available for the server market, including two-processor systems. The 64-bit Itanium is available for higher-performance servers, he said.

The Xeons are based on Intel's x86 architecture. Intel's 64-bit chip, Itanium, uses a different design.

Board and system manufacturers pledged to offer workstation platforms using the new Xeon include Dell, HP, Fujitsu, NEC, and Optimus.

The Nocona processor operates at speeds up to 3.6 GHz. The EMT64T capability will enable 64-bit memory addressability.

Intel is also introducing a chipset optimized for workstation platforms. The E7525 chipset, code-named Tumwater, will increase system bus throughput by 50% compared with previous-generation chipsets, the company says.

In a statement issued Monday, AMD said there remain "critical advantages in the AMD64 platform [that] are not addressed by the Intel architecture."

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