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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

The head of Intel Corp's server chip division rubbished AMD's 32/64-bit hybrid processor proposition yesterday, saying that if it's such a good idea, why hasn't anyone done it before?

Mike Fister, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's enterprise, speaking after a keynote speech at the vendor's developer forum in San Jose, questioned the logic of supporting both 64-bit and 32-bit computing on the same processor. Advanced Micro Devices Inc is pushing its hybrid approach as a way for corporations to smooth their transition from legacy 32-bit applications to 64-bit computing.

Fister said performance issues meant it was questionable whether many customers would find much use in such an approach. "There's maybe a splinter where it could have some value." he said. "[But] the end point where our customers have got to get to is 64-bit."

Making the shift to 64-bit is a massive undertaking for any vendor to do, he said, even without trying to straddle 32-bit computing as well. "If it's so easy to do, you'd think it wouldn't have taken us so long to get to Itanium."

Meanwhile, Intel said it would keep the Itanium 2 branding for its next brace of 64-bit processors. Madison, which represents the shift of the Itanium architecture to a 0.13 micron manufacturing process and which features a 6MB cache, will ship next summer, said product manager Michael Graf.

Deerfield, a lower power version of Itanium, is due to ship some time after, but before the end of 2003. Intel says the next generation of Itanium will offer a 1.3 to 1.5 times performance improvement over the current line.

Graf said the rollout of Madison and Deerfield will follow a similar pattern to the earlier Itaniums, with long evaluation periods by both OEMs and customers. "It's an artefact of the high end space," he said.

© ComputerWire

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