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Until now, the AMD Opteron processor, based on the AMD64 core, was the main option for users who wanted a hybrid server which was able to run 32-bit and 64-bit applications on the same hardware.
Using a 32-bit processor with 64-bit extensions, 32-bit applications are able to take advantage of the larger addressable memory on 64-bit systems, which can be used to improve performance.
Nocoma, the iteration of Intel's dual-processor Xeon workstation and server family, is a version of the hybrid chip. Intel's architecture, dubbed extended memory technology, or EMT, is designed to support 64-bit extended operating systems from Microsoft, Red Hat and SuSE, according to Intel.
It is considered a bridge between 32-bit and 64-bit computing as users are able to run entire 32-bit systems, 64-bit operating systems with 32-bit applications, and 64-bit operating systems with 64-bit applications on the same hardware.
Along with the EMT architecture, Intel is developing a "dual-core" 64-bit architecture code- named Montecito, due to be released in 2005. Last week, AMD said it would also be working on a dual-core system based on the AMD64 core.
Such an architecture should boost performance of applications as it effectively doubles the processing power. Each processor comprises two cores, allowing the chip to perform, in theory, twice as much computational work.
AMD plans to deliver high-performance dual-core products for PC servers in mid-2005 and said it would introduce dual-core chips for high-end client PCs in the second half of 2005.
In a recent paper Gartner analyst Jane Wright said dual-core technologies allowed servers to double the number of processors previously supported in one format, but that users need to be wary of this design when servers begin to appear in 2005.
Wright said, "Customers need to understand the software licensing costs associated with dual-core processors. Many independent software suppliers base their prices on the size of the server where their software will be installed.
"If that server has dual processors, the supplier will usually count each as one processor." In effect, buying a dual-core server could double a user's software licensing costs.