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Intel to improve 32-bit performance on Itanium

May 08, 20032 mins

* Intel developing technology to speed 32-bit apps on 64-bit Itanium

Intel, perhaps in reaction to AMD’s release of the 32/64-bit Opteron processor, said it plans to run 32-bit applications faster on future Itanium processors and ease users’ migration to the 64-bit platform.

The company, which introduced the first of its Itanium processors last year, says that 32-bit applications will run slower on 64-bit processors than they would on their 32-bit counterparts. As a result, Intel plans to launch a technology, codenamed “btrans” and formally called the IA-32 Execution Layer, later this year.

The IA-32 Execution Layer will work on Intel’s upcoming Madison and Deerfield chips and translate 32-bit applications into 64-bit code within the operating system.

Intel sources indicate that the company has seen performance improvements of as much as 100% when 32-bit applications run on Itanium using the technology. Btrans will let the upcoming 1.5-GHz Itanium 2 run 32-bit apps at the same speed as a 1.5-GHz. Xeon MP processor.

Red Hat and SuSE will support the technology. So will Microsoft, which observers say will add the emulation code to its Windows 2003 Server. HP, which has pinned its plans on Itanium, is also planning to use the IA-32 Execution Layer.

AMD claims its Opteron processor can run 32-bit code faster than 32-bit platforms.

The software is expected to be released later this year.