Intel Corp. will call the 64-bit extension technology for its 32-bit Xeon processors Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology, or Intel EM64T.
Starting in the second quarter with its Nocona chip for two-processor systems, Intel will outfit its Xeons with the ability to run 64-bit as well as 32-bit applications, a move announced at the companys Intel Developer Forum in February.
Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., will follow Nocona with 64-bit extensions for Prescott—for one-way servers and workstations—and in 2005 with chips for systems running four or more processors.
The announcement last month made official what industry observers had suspected for several years—that despite the money and effort Intel put behind creating and marketing its 64-bit Itanium chip, it was working on another project designed to add extensions to its 32-bit processors.
Itanium systems can run 32-bit applications, but only through an emulation software layer, and at a lower level of performance than 64-bit software.
The new EM64T technology—originally code-named Yamhill, then later CT—will be attractive to users who currently are running 32-bit applications on Xeon-based systems and who want to gradually migrate into 64-bit computing. Itanium will continue to be a high-end product for customers with needs for more memory and higher performance, or who want to move from their Unix or mainframe environments.
The extensions also give Intel an answer to Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s Opteron chips, which also run 32- and 64-bit x86 applications.
Most major OEMs, including Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM, have said they will support the new chips in their systems. But Opteron has a years head start on Intels extensions, and HP, IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. are among the vendors that are offering or that plan to offer systems with those processors.
Intel officials said that the extensions are only part of a long list of features that they are looking to incorporate into all of the companys chips, including HyperThreading, PCI Express, DDR2 memory support, enhanced security and virtualization, through its Vanderpool technology.