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Vendors jump to support Intel’s 64-bit extensions

Feb 23, 20043 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsIBM

Vendors jump to support 64-bit extensions

At the Spring Intel Developer Forum last week, three major players in the server market pledged their support to the chip with 64-bit extensions technology that Intel announced it will release next quarter.

Dell, HP and IBM joined Intel Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Fister on stage at the conference to announce they would release systems based on the Nocona Xeon processor when Intel makes it available. For HP and Dell, the processor will be their first with 64-bit extensions to the x86 instruction set, while IBM now will sell servers based on Nocona and Advanced Micro Devices’ Opteron chip.

Intel and its partners said they had been working on products with this technology for a long time, and last week’s announcement is the culmination of that work. But AMD’s Opteron has been out for nearly a year, and HP and Dell have thus far passed on the chip.

Dell has backed the idea of 64-bit extensions for more than a year but waited to introduce a product because it didn’t think Opteron has seen enough demand outside of the high-performance market, says Neil Hand, director of worldwide marketing for Dell’s enterprise systems group.

HP’s situation is more complicated because it already has a 64-bit strategy with the Itanium processor. “Customers have a good idea of where they need Itanium and where they need [extensions technology], and they’ll vote with their feet,” says Donald Jenkins, vice president of marketing for business critical servers at HP.

Extensions technology is a step toward 64 bits, and as workloads grow more complicated over the next decade, users will need the more compelling performance Itanium offers, he said.

The only company that has jumped onboard with both Intel and AMD is IBM. Years of experience with a broad product portfolio has prepared IBM to sell similar products to its customers, says Alex Yost, director of product marketing for IBM’s xSeries servers. For example, the company sells high-end servers based on Itanium and its own Power4+ chip, he says.

Customers that run certain applications will have a better experience with Opteron, while Nocona might be more applicable for a different type of customer, Yost says. The decision to sell both products benefits end users who now can compare the two products side by side and make the best decision for their needs, he says.

Krazit is a correspondent with the IDG News Service’s Boston bureau.