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Intel steps up competition with AMD

Jan 22, 20042 mins

* Intel introduces software to compete with AMD’s 32/64-bit processor

Intel last week raised the stakes in its competition with AMD’s 32/64-bit Opteron processor by introducing IA-32 Execution Layer software for Itanium 2 processors.

The IA-32 Execution Layer software, called IA-32 EL for short, increases the performance of 32-bit applications running on Microsoft Windows operating systems on Intel’s 64-bit Itanium processor. The technology, which is integrated with the operating system, runs on Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition, Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition and Windows XP.

When it is added to a machine, it gives the performance of a 1.5-GHz Xeon MP processor. Intel claims that the performance will be 50-70% of present Itanium 64-bit performance.

The software translates IA-32 applications into native Itanium code and allows it to run in native mode rather than in emulation. Microsoft says Windows 2003 Standard Edition with IA-32 EL is designed for high-performance computing clusters; Windows 2003 Enterprise Edition for large databases and business-critical applications; and Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition is best for mission-critical applications, as well as server consolidation. 

By contrast, AMD’s x86-64 technology, called AMD64, is able to run 32-bit applications without performance degradation.

There has been speculation that Intel would introduce its own 32/64-bit processor to compete with AMD’s Opteron, which is quickly building market share.

IBM and Sun have introduced servers that use Opteron. IBM launched the dual-processor eServer 325 last July. Sun is expected to ship an Opteron-based server the first half of this year.

In spite of the announcement of IA-32 EL, IDC downgraded its Itanium forecast last week. The firm now expects Itanium revenues of $7.5 billion in 2007, down from its previous forecast of $8.7 billion.

The software is available for download at: