This month, 64-bit Wintel computing took a major step forward when Microsoft Corp. announced that 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP will support not only Intel Corp. Itanium 2 processors but also Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s 64-bit Opteron and the forthcoming 64-bit version of its Athlon CPU.
The 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition and Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition offer better performance and scalability for sites running in-memory databases, as well as high-performance computing and scientific applications that have massive memory and processor requirements (see Case Study).
Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition can scale to 64 processors and 512GB of RAM. Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition will scale to eight processors and 64GB of memory. The 64-bit operating systems are almost identical to their 32-bit counterparts in other aspects.
SQL Server is the only 64-bit Microsoft application available now. However, companies including IBM, Oracle Corp., Computer Associates International Inc., SAP AG and BEA Systems Inc. have pledged application support for Itanium 2 and Windows Server 2003.
Windows XP 64-bit Edition Version 2003 will be targeted at powerful 64-bit Itanium 2 workstations and 64-bit Athlon 64 workstations running engineering, video rendering/modeling and other CPU-intensive applications. However, Microsoft has not yet announced plans to release 64-bit versions of Office or other end-user applications.
For more on Windows Server 2003, see our special section.