64-Bit Computing Options on the Rise?

Enterprises could see their options for 64-bit computing on the x86 architecture grow during the year.

Enterprises could see their options for 64-bit computing on the x86 architecture grow during the year.

In an interview with a financial analyst on Wednesday, Paul Otellini, president and chief operating officer at Intel Corp., said the chip-making giant probably will offer 64-bit extensions in its 32-bit processors—such as Xeon and Pentium—once operating systems and applications are tuned to such extensions.

That statement came a day after Hewlett-Packard Co. officials, responding to reports that they will soon offer Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s Opteron chip in some of its ProLiant servers, said in a statement that while they remain committed to Xeon and Intels 64-bit Itanium processor, they are keeping their options open.

That and other "64-bit chatter" convinced Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with Insight64, in Saratoga, Calif., to issue an e-mail notice today saying that he expects one or more major announcements from chip makers or systems manufacturers within the next 45 days revolving around new 64-bit computing capabilities.

Though he said in his e-mail notice that he was unsure what exactly the announcements will be, Brookwood said he expects them to open up the options for 64-bit computing and lead the way to two-processor 64-bit systems from tier-one OEMs.

In an interview, Brookwood said the anticipated announcement next month by Sun Microsystems Inc. of low-end Opteron-based servers and the expectation of a some sort of 64-bit x86 demonstration by Intel at next months Intel Developer Forum also are feeding into the intensifying talk surrouding 64-bit computing. Sun announced an alliance with AMD in November in which the Santa Clara, Calif., systems maker will use Opterons in servers. IBM also has released an Opteron-based server, the e325.

Sixty-four-bit computers can run twice as many bits of information in a clock cycle than 32-bit systems, and accommodate greater amounts of memory, making them attractive to enterprises running data intensive programs such as databases and technical applications.

With Opteron, AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., has created a processor that can run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications. Intels Itanium chip can run 64-bit applications, but currently uses a 32-bit emulation layer to help it run those applications. However, the software enables Itanium systems to run 32-bit applications at 50 to 70 percent of the performance of 64-bit applications.