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Intel maps out 64-bit Xeon dash

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It doesn't take much for the marketing staff at Intel to go through massive philosophical conversions. A few months back, the PR staffers insisted that customers weren't ready for 64-bit Xeon processors. Now, Intel demands that customers are clamoring for 64-bit choice, which has prompted it to prep two new chips in the Xeon line.

Within the next two weeks, Intel will release a new x86-64-bit Xeon with a 2MB Level 2 cache. The chip will likely clock in at 3.6GHz and will serve as a boost to existing Xeons aimed at workstations and one- to two-processor servers.

Later this quarter, Intel will do even more to bolster the Xeon line by rolling out a 64-bit Xeon aimed at four-processor servers. This Xeon MP will have a 667MHz front side bus, DDR2 support and PCI Express support. This product serves as the predecessor for another Xeon MP chip code-named Potomac that will have an 8MB Level 3 cache.

Intel made a lot of noise this week, announcing dual-core moves with its Pentium desktop processor line. In addition, it said that the first 64-bit Pentium will arrive in the next few weeks. On the server side of the house, Intel revealed the Xeon plans and confirmed its dual-core Itanium processor - known as Montecito - will arrive late this year.

This outpouring of product info comes as surprise given that Intel will hold its developer conference in just three weeks. It typically uses the conference to showcase processor advances.

Intel's marketing staff keeps talking up the high adoption rates of the 64-bit Xeon processors, but we're left wondering why this should be seen as such a big accomplishment. Customers will obviously pick up a product that can run both 32-bit and 64-bit software at speed as opposed to just a 32-bit capable part.

AMD paved the way for x86-64-bit chips, and Intel is now capitalizing off a market its rival helped mature. Had AMD not picked up HP, IBM and Sun Microsystems as customers, Intel's tardiness would not be seen as such a huge loss. Oh well. ®

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