More on 64
-Bit Xeon Extensions"> Fister also disclosed several new details about the 64-bit extensions to Xeon that Intel CEO Craig Barrett introduced on Tuesday. According to Fister, the new Xeons will run in one of three modes: a 32-bit/32-bit "legacy mode", a 32-bit/64-bit "compatibility mode" and a full 64-bit/64-bit mode. While the compatibility mode will help the industry transition to 64-bit computing, software drivers will need to be rewritten, Fister said. The extension technology will also provide programmers 8 Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE) and 8 general-purpose registers with which to work, Fister added."From there, we progress to big back-end databases, the heartland of Itanium," Fister said. Click here to read more of Intel CEO Craig Barretts comments at Intel Developer Forum. By the middle of the decade, however, Intel hopes to deliver cost parity between the Itanium and the Xeon. Already, inexpensive Itanium systems are approaching the cost of Xeon boxes, Fister said. The first use of the extended 64-bit architecture will be used in Nocona, due to ship in the second quarter, the successor to the current two-way Xeon processor line. Nocona will ship at 3.6GHz, Fister said, the first time Intel has disclosed the speed of the processor. The current Xeon MP line will be replaced by the Potomac chip, which will include a megabyte of cache, later this year; Barrett said Tuesday that the Potomac will gain the 64-bit extensions early in the first quarter of 2004. "The Itanium and the Xeon we feel are going to be complementary products in our product line," said Kevin Kettler, the chief technology officer of Dell Computer Corp., Round Rock, Texas. Check out eWEEK.coms Server and Networking Center at servers.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switching and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
Echoing Barrett, Fister characterized the addition of the 32-bit extensions as a feature that would broaden Intels product line. He predicted that customers will continue to use 32-bit processors in the front-end of IT shops, and for low-end enterprise applications.