Intel to preview 64-bit processor to rival Opteron

Intel is to demonstrate a processor with 64-bit extensions during the upcoming Intel Developer Forum, confirming speculation that...

Intel is to demonstrate a processor with 64-bit extensions during the upcoming Intel Developer Forum, confirming speculation that the company would respond to the processors unveiled by rival Advanced Micro Devices last year.

Rumours have circulated for years that Intel has developed and tested a product with 64-bit extensions called "Yamhill".

The company has never formally acknowledged those rumours, but after three of the four major server companies gave notice that their customers are inquiring about servers with chips that bring the x86 instruction set to 64-bits, Intel is prepared to talk about such a product.

AMD's Opteron server processor brings 64-bit capabilities to 32-bit processors with the x86 instruction set that has provided the marching orders for most of the world's computers during the past 20 years. AMD also released the Athlon 64 desktop processor with the same technology in September.

Ever since AMD announced its plans to extend the x86 instruction set several years ago, Intel has denied that a market for servers with that technology would emerge by this point.

IBM and Sun Microsystems both announced plans to deliver servers based on the Opteron processor last year, and Hewlett-Packard said it sees a demand for "x86 extensions technology" and is evaluating its options.

"Intel has likely had this in its back pocket for some time, and Opteron is clearly gaining marketplace momentum. Intel just didn't feel it could sit back and hope the problem would go away any longer," said Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata.

An Intel spokesman declined to comment on any plans for demonstrations at the show, which takes place in San Francisco from 17 February.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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