Intel representatives yesterday confirmed what they described as the "worst kept secret in [the industry]," announcing that the company would add
64-bit extensions to its Xeon and Pentium 4 microprocessors, giving them 64-bit capabilities and bringing them up to par with rival chips from AMD,
which pioneered desktop-based 64-bit computing last year. The revelation was an about-face for Intel, which has historically led the microprocessor
industry, both financially and technically. But Intel says that the consumer demand for 64-bit technology is there, as are compatible 64-bit versions
of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, which can take advantage of the chips advanced features while providing full backwards compatibility with all
of the applications today's PC users take for granted. On the other hand, the announcement raises concerns for Intel's Itanium line, a "pure" 64-bit
microprocessor family designed for high-end servers and scientific workstations.
February 18, 2004