One must wonder, then: If these benefits are so apparent, why are 32-bit systems still purchased so widely? Sixty-four-bit computing is not a 21st-century innovation; enterprise hardware builders such as IBM, Sun and Hewlett-Packard already offer respected families of 64-bit systems that are earning their keep in many applications. Current 64-bit systems, however, are too expensive for general adoption. The question that therefore tests the nerve of IT hardware makers is this: How many high-end processor architectures can the industry continue to develop and build? Moores Law, the trend that doubles the number of devices on a chip every 18 months, is often cited as the force that transforms silicon into gold; chip builders also converse in much less cheerful terms about Moores Second Law, which characterizes the staggering growth in the cost of building each new generation of fabrication plants as that progress raises the stakes. Despite the unquestioned technical merits of designs like the late, lamented Alpha, only a handful of processor families can survive.Oddsmakers should consider the growing importance of overseas markets, where desktop Athlon 64 machines (most likely running Linux) may well become the entry-level servers of choiceas 386-based machines did in the late 1980s. Now, as then, the buyers will get to decidejust as they did the last time that the dealers in Moores Casino called out, "Double the bets!" Or was that "bits"? Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Latest AMD News:
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What AMD and Intel now need to see is the hole card of the enterprise IT buyer. When that card is revealed, will it show readiness to acquire and assimilate a whole new base of operating systems, enterprise middleware and applications to take advantage of the Itanium architectures completely new instruction set? Or will it reveal the combination of technical caution and commercial risk acceptance that could bring buyers to AMDs door, seeking a 64-bit superset of the well-established x86?