Intel has unveiled the next generation of its Xeon processor, which will be the company's first chip to include the Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T) that allows the processor to run both 64-bit and 32-bit software.
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Intel also released a chipset for workstations based on the new Xeon processor, called the E7525, which includes a faster 800MHz system bus, DDR2 (double data rate) memory, as well as Intel's next-generation PCI (Peripheral Component Interface) Express interconnect.
The new Xeon, which had been code-named Nocona, comes more than a year after Intel's rival, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) released its Opteron processor, which takes the similar approach of extending Intel's 32-bit x86 processor instructions to handle 64-bit computing.
Nocona and Opteron systems will have different designs and use different chipsets, but for most users the difference between the two will not be visible, said Jim Turley, a microprocessor analyst based in California.
"It still looks like a PC, smells like a PC and feels like a PC," he said.
The Linux operating system already supports the 64-bit extensions used by Nocona and Opteron, but Microsoft support will not occur until the company ships new service pack releases of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, which are both expected by year's end.
Intel's x86 processors and chipsets will gradually adopt the new 64-bit extensions, with the majority of x86 workstation and server systems supporting the technology by 2005. The majority of all Intel systems, including desktops and notebooks, will ship with the extensions by 2006.
Robert McMillan and Tom Krazit write for IDG News Service