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Pentium 4  
Intel Brings 64-bit Processing to the Pentium 4
By Loyd Case

Prozac for AMD?

AMD’s been beating the 64-bit drum for several years now, long before the company actually shipped its 64-bit processors. Since the initial launch of the Opteron server and workstation in April of 2003, AMD worked with Microsoft to bring a 64-bit version of Windows. The x86-64 version of Windows Server 2003 slipped also, though the IA-64 bit version, supporting Intel’s Itanium architecture, shipped in spring of 2003. This was somewhat mitigated by 64-bit Linux distros supporting AMD64 processors, which also shipped in 2003.

Still, AMD shipped substantial numbers of Opterons into the 64-bit server space. When AMD shipped the Athlon 64, it was expected that a 64-bit desktop version of Windows would be quickly forthcoming, but 2004 passed with nothing but beta releases in sight. Recently, Redmond hinted strongly that Windows XP Professional 64-bit Edition would be shipping late spring or early summer.

The delays must be frustrating for AMD. As late to the table as Intel is with x86-64, Microsoft lagged even more in shipping its 64-bit desktop operating system. Now the company that has been promoting 64-bit desktop computing for several years won’t reap the benefit of being the only kid on the block. Conspiracy theorists have already begun questioning the delays in Windows XP 64-bit edition. But if you look at it from Microsoft’s point of view, delaying made great sense. Large strides have been made in the last few months in the area of 64-bit driver support. Plus, Intel still ships significantly more processor volume of x86 CPUs than AMD, due to its dominance among large OEMs like Dell, Gateway, and HP.

Had the 64-bit version of Windows XP shipped last fall, AMD would likely have reaped a bonanza of publicity and sales. As it stands, the company can rightfully note that it was first into the x86-64 market, and that Intel is responding to pressure from its customers and the competition.

With these thoughts in mind, let’s take a look at the new Intel CPU lineup. Continued…

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