September 20th, 2003, 13:02 PM
Prescott has 64-bit compatibility built in
SINCE WE published the pins and needling story yesterday, the black shirted moles have come out of the woodwork about the innards of Prescott. Those little critters can't stop talking. The power people told us how many pins they needed, months ago, a crazed genius told us about Prescott's die here and here, and lots of people told us that to count said non-power pins. Peeks into the bios code told us more. Motherboard people strongly denied it, and winked at us. Something was up, it was coming from too many directions. Four strong sources, but no smoking gun.
Then, in an anti-climactic burst from out of left field, it all hit at once. Someone came up to me and said 'Guess what I just heard a senior Intel executive say'. Talk about months of hard work ruined by a person who happened on the story of the year. That said, you heard it here first yesterday, Prescott has 64-bit functionality in it. Hans DeVries was dead on.
This answer poses 2 more questions. The first is what instruction set do they use? The AMD64 instruction extensions are theirs to use because of licensing agreements with AMD, but we think they would sooner eat the IDF press room food than do that. MS has been long rumored to tell Intel what they can and can not do, and their record in confrontations like this are not one to bet against. Rumor has it that the vole has said that they will only support a single 64-bit extension to IA32, but then months ago they said they would be supporting 5 64-bit architectures in windows. The mystery deepens.
The more important thing is Itanium. Word on the show floor is that every Intel person thinks that now is the time, and soon they hope to sell more than 4 digits worth (the number of zeros, not the number of fingers, we aren't THAT cynical) of machines in a quarter. The buzz among those with a vested interest is palpable. Performance in a lot of benchmarks is definitely there, but the market still seems to be in the 'dip a toe in' stage. Consumer response, and the response of vendors shows marginal interest.
So the burning question is, will Intel officially tell the world about the 64-bit extensions, and gut the chances of Itanium taking off, or will they sit on it? AMD will most likely determine how and when the 64-bit code gets unveiled, but don't hold your breath. It takes a lot of market share erosion to dump that many years of R&D, and from the looks of it, that isn't happening. µ