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The 64-bit Game of Chess in Microprocessors

64-bit Game of Chess

The race of the chip giants will enter a new platform with the launch of AMD�s Opteron. It will extend the intense rivalry on the 64 bit platform.

p____p In this battle, Intel appeared to have taken a run away lead with the launch of Itanium1 and 2. However, AMD seems to be banking on the backward compatibility with the applications developed for the 32 bit environment.

p____p In other words, AMD�s new 64 bit chips support the x86 architecture of 32 bit processors. So they can run the old applications faster. Also the architecture will simply extend the x86 instruction set to 64 bit instructions. So backward compatibility is available.

p____p In Intel�s case, if a user wants to graduate to a 64 bit environment based on Intel technology, it means the cost of migration as Intel�s 64 bit chips are built on the EPIC or Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing. New applications would need to be developed separately for Intel based 64 bit computing.

p____p In AMD�s case of its Opeteron(for servers) and also the promised Athlon 64 (for desktops), it means that they will be able to run the same applications with more power. So AMD, although launching long after Intel got its 64 bit chips market ready, seems to have emerged on a strong wicket.

p____p The endorsement from the big OEMs will decide which way the wind blows. Although Intel seems placed better right now, AMD too is getting a lot of support.AMD�s existing OEM vendors in India are Wipro, Vintron, HCL & PCS. It can be expected that they will continue to support it. Microsoft, Sun and IBM are already working on applications to run on Opteron.

p____p Microsoft will be releasing 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP to support the upcoming Opteron and Athlon 64 respectively. Windows Server 2003 is launching on April 24, two days after AMD releases the Opteron. AMD is also expected to launch the Athlon 64 processors for desktops and notebooks in the second half the calendar year.

p____p As of now, 32 bit seems good enough for the market. So while India warms up to the notions of value PCs, the boundaries of technology seem to extending further. For the computing die-hards and for enterprises, more speed and power will be definitely welcome.

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