There’s been a raft of articles all saying that Intel is going to say something about x86-64 Real Soon Now, and the “real soon” will be at the Intel Development Forum in a little more than two weeks.
And people believe the answer will be “Yes.”
If you listen to the interview with Intel’s President Paul Otellini, he confirms this in a rather roundabout way.
When asked about it, he spends most of his time saying why it isn’t really needed now, then concludes by saying that despite all this, Intel will have it once there is an OS and apps for it. However, if you listen closely, he is referring to x86-64 rather than Itanium when he talks about 64-bit computing on the desktop.
The way you can tell is that he says that there is no 64-bit operating system from Microsoft, outside of a beta Windows kernel, available yet. He isn’t talking about Itanium because it already has a 64-bit Windows OS. That leaves x86-64 (and his description fits Windows for x86-64 perfectly).
IDF: Peering Into The Future
Intel usually doesn’t introduce production processors at IDFs. Rather, they show off future processors at IDFs, usually CPUs that will see the light of day a year or a bit more later.
That would mean Tejas, not Prescott.
It doesn’t look like Windows for AMD64 is going to be ready any time soon, which is another indicator against an immediate x86-64 introduction.
Reason For Delay
If Intel does announce that some form of x86-64 will be included in Tejas, that really would deliver the last blow for anyone outside of the severely hurting to buy a Prescott system.
A 2005 Tejas system would give you x86-64 AND (by that time) affordable (and faster) DDR-II RAM AND a BTX form factor AND (probably) a better (read more overclockable) CPU due to improved electrochemistry.
You’d get none of these with Prescott.
Prefer AMD? Well, if Intel jumps in, that will definitely mean software for x86-64, but by the time it becomes available, you can also get a 90nm Hammer to go along with it. Strikes me as being silly to buy a Hammer for 64-bits today just to sing “Someday, my prince will come.”
“I Made The Gun That Shot Me”
Should Intel decide to say, “Me too,” there will be those who will claim that this will be some great victory for AMD.
Frankly, that’s the argument of a loser. It’s like Saddam Hussein saying, “Look at what I did, I made the Americans invade me twice!” That’s hardly a victory chant, at least not to sane people.
It doesn’t kill Itanium (which finally began to sell last quarter). Itanium will continue to grow and develop on the high end, and once the fabrication processes allow it to fit the desktop, Intel will probably introduce it on the desktop three or so years from now. We’ll see what happens then.
What Intel’s introduction of x86-64 will do is kneecap any prospects of AMD breaking out of its second-class citizenship by removing the main potential reason for the bulk of Intel users to shift.
This doesn’t mean AMD is going to die; it just precludes the possibility of great success. A moral victory doesn’t mean much when the morally defeated ends up with the bulk of the sales. It’s sort of like the Howard Dean advocates saying that their opponents stole their candidate’s message. It’s largely true, and entirely irrelevant. Neither the voting booth nor cash register counts moral wins.