Sixty-four bit servers can run twice as many bits of information per clock cycle than 32-bit systems, and can accommodate greater amounts of memory. Such systems free enterprises from the memory constraints of 32-bit computing, giving them more headroom in the applications they run, Enck said. The moves by AMD, Intel and the OEMs embracing 64-bit extensions also gives software makers "incentive to move their applications from the 64-bit world to the 32-bit world," he said. Microsoft will roll out a Windows version for 64-bit extended systems in the second half of the year. Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc.s SuSE group also will roll out Linux versions for such ver-sions. The downside to the growing 64-bit field is that businesses that once had to pick from only a few choices now find their options expanded.During the press conference, HP executives were peppered with questions Itanium and Intel. They also were asked whether the Opteron initiative represented a change in the companys plans to stick to an Intel-based product line. Stallard argued that the strategy all along had been to standardize the ProLiant systems on x86 technology, and that Opteron was a move within that strategy. He also said that the Opteron and extended Xeon systems will complement the initiative to migrate all of its high-end systems, including the NonStop servers, onto Itanium. For customers looking to grow their 32-bit capabilities or slowly migrate in 64-bit computing, the Xeon and Opteron systems will work best. Still, there are users who work with mission-critical applications and want 64-bit capabilities, or who want to move off a Unix infrastructure, that will look to Itanium. "[The extended systems will help customers who want to migrate to 64-bit computing "in an evolutionary way," said Rich Marcello, senior vice president and general manager of HPs Business Critical Servers unit. He added that Itanium will be particularly attractive to users with systems with four or more processors. Stallard also denied rumors that Intels 64-bit extensions and HPs embrace of Opteron were damaging to the relationship between the two companies. "This is not where were falling out with Intel," he said. "Far from it. Our relationship is as strong as ever." HPs embrace of Opteron is a big win for AMD, which now has three of the four top OEMsDell Inc. being the exceptionusing its processor. And de-spite Intels use of 64-bit extensions, Opteron still has some advantages over Xeon, including a years head-start and technology such as a memory controller built directly onto the chip Opteron and HyperTransport, which speeds communications between processors. However, Intel is planning technology, including PCI-Express, that will offset some of those advantages. IBM and Sun officials argue that the announcements by Intel and HP regarding 64-bit extensions and Opteron systems are lending confusion to the industry. Both companiesIBM with Power and Sun with SPARChave offered 64-bit computing for several years for their systems that run Unix and, in IBMs case, Linux.
"Now enterprises will have to pause and think about the advantages of 64-bit applications versus 32-bit applications," he said.