Intel had been poo-pooing AMD’s shiny new 64 bit processors as premature in machines outside of the server role and they kept insisting they wouldn’t be releasing a similar 32/64 bit capable processor for the desktop market anytime soon.
Early adopters, however, are reporting that even running solely in 32 bit mode AMD’s 64 bit processors are out-performing their 32 bit only cousins. While performance in 64 bit mode isn’t as stellar as expected this is mainly due to immature 64 bit drivers on a beta version of Windows XP 64 bit edition and is expected to change as more mature drivers and the final version of 64 bit native Windows XP are released. Intel has found trying to convince folks that there’s still plenty of life in 32 bit only processors a tough sell and as a result they’re changing their tune.
Intel Concedes 64-Bit Chips Are Wave of the Future (Free registration required)
Until today, Intel, which is based in Santa Clara, Calif., had publicly sought to continue with 32-bit operations for personal computer and small server applications relying on its Pentium and Xeon processor lines.
That approach, however, was thwarted by A.M.D., the microprocessor industry’s plucky second fiddle. A.M.D., from Sunnyvale, Calif., took a different tack, gambling on creating a new line of chips that included special 64-bit extensions, making it possible to run traditional 32-bit Intel-compatible programs as well as newer 64-bit software.
That gamble has now paid off with the announcement today from Craig Barrett, Intel’s chief executive, that his company plans to add 64-bit capabilities to its Xeon server processors during the next quarter and incorporate similar 64-bit processing features in its next-generation workstation processors before the end of the year.
The Intel announcement gives programmers and PC makers an incentive to commit to 64-bit chips immediately, putting A.M.D. in the lead until Intel is able to get its 64-bit chip to market.
Depending on how quickly Intel can come out with something comparable to AMD’s current offerings this could end up proving to be a very worthwhile gamble on AMD’s part that may payoff in a big way. As a fan of AMD’s offerings already this is good news from where I’m standing.