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By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2004-04-19 Print this article Print

IT departments and analysts see a slow but definite move to 64-bit computing. Chip makers such as AMD and Intel expect to see sales jump as more 64-bit software hits the market.

For instance, over the next 18 months, EMC Corp.s VMware unit will tune its virtual machine software to support 64-bit extended applications. Starting later this quarter, VMware will release an early trial edition of that in an update to its Workstation 4.5 offering, said VMware officials in Palo Alto.

AMD may have gotten the jump on Intel in putting 64-bit extensions into x86 processors with the release of the Opteron a year ago, but the company has a way to go in chipping away at Intels dominance in the processor race. According to analysts at IDC, of Framingham, Mass., about 35,000 Opteron-based servers shipped last year, which was a fraction of the total sales of 4.7 million x86 servers, the bulk of which were powered by Intels Xeon or Pentium chips, IDC said.

Later this quarter, Intel, of Santa Clara, will ship the first of its 32-bit Xeon processors with 64-bit extensions, code-named Nocona. In addition, several Intel chip sets will support such technologies as PCI Express and DDR2 memory this year, officials said.

Still, AMD is making inroads to the enterprise. VeriSign Inc. is moving several applications and databases off IBM, HP and Sun Unix servers and onto two- and four-way systems from Newisys Inc. running Opteron chips. These applications—which include the Mountain View, Calif., companys Domain Name System—require a lot of memory, and VeriSign was looking for a way to port them to a 64-bit platform that was less expensive than Unix systems, said Ari Balaugh, senior vice president for operations and infrastructure at the company.

After a six-month trial, Balaugh liked the price/performance of Opteron servers, he said. A Newisys system with four Opteron chips is 1.8 times faster than an eight-way Unix server, which for large applications requiring 16GB to 32GB of memory can translate into a fourfold to sixfold cost difference, he said.

"We were a little leery of [the Opteron] initially," Balaugh said. "But you get good enterprise features from Newisys, and the Opteron is just fast."

Check out eWEEK.coms Server and Networking Center at for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


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