Intel Promises 64-Bit Desktops

Intel, playing catch up with AMD, has announced that it has plans for the release of its much delayed 64-bit processors for desktop computers. Systems containing the 600 series Pentium 4 chips will be in stores next month, the company said.

“With Intel and AMD, it’s always a game of leapfrog. Sometimes one leaps ahead, sometimes they leap and just close the gap,” Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight 64, told TechNewsWorld.

“Since they haven’t released much in the way of numbers, it’s a little to soon to be able to conclude if they’re leaping ahead or closing the gap. Its single-core processor may close the gap some, but in terms of absolute performance, Intel will not have leapt ahead,” he said.

Dual-Core Chips

Intel said it will release higher performance dual-core processors in the second half of this year.

The 600 series chips have EM64T technology, which allows users to run both 32- and 64-bit applications. There are few 64-bit applications available for the desktop, but the architecture should be hitting its stride in the next couple of years.

“When it first hits the street, it won’t do much, but once it’s out for a while there’s a high likelihood that we’ll see a new set of applications emerging that take advantage of 64-bit architecture,” Brookwood said. “The 64-bit systems won’t be important until 2006 or 2007 in terms of running applications.”

Neck-and-Neck

AMD’s 64-bit Opteron chips have been on the market since April 2003.

Its Athlon 64-bit PC chips followed that August, but Jim McGregor, principal analyst at In-Stat, told TechNewsWorld that Intel is not far behind in the PC market.

“Most of the ground gained by AMD has been in servers, where Intel has both a 64-bit Xeon and Itanium,” he said.

“The AMD server processors have some architectural advantages over Xeon that include an integrated memory controller for lower latency and HyperTransport interfaces to connect multiple processors as well as chipsets. The Itanium still has a performance advantage on the ultra-high-end processing, but you have to pay a premium for a processor that does not perform well on legacy 32-bit code.”

Microsoft still has not released a 64-bit version of its Windows operating system, but the company said it is on track to deliver it in the first half of this year.

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