February 26, 2002 1:10 PM PST
AMD wields its Hammer
At meetings in San Francisco, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company showed off Hammer-based computers running a 64-bit version of Linux as well as Microsoft Windows.
The Hammer family of processors will differ from other AMD chips--and other Intel processors--in that they will be able to run conventional 32-bit applications found on Windows PCs today as well as 64-bit applications. The bit numbers refer to the amount of data the processor can digest at once.
In general, 64-bit computers are more powerful than their 32-bit counterparts, but few 64-bit applications exist in the Windows world. AMD's strategy with the chip is to capture customers who plan to transition to 64-bit applications over time.
"Beyond performance, 'Hammer' will give users a smooth migration path to the 64-bit software of tomorrow, all the while preserving the billions of dollars of today's 32-bit software applications," Ed Ellett, AMD's vice president of marketing in the computational products group, said in a statement.
Intel's Itanium processors handle 64-bit chips, but the Pentium family handles 32-bit applications. Sources have said that the company has a hybrid version, code-named Yamhill, in its labs.
The first Hammer chips, code-named Clawhammer, will hit the market toward the end of the year and will be found in desktops. Server versions will follow in 2003.