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Intel Corp.’s decision to compete head-to-head with Advanced Micro Devices Inc. by bringing 64-bit capabilities to its Xeon processors should result in a greater number of hardware and software options for enterprises looking for a gradual transition from 32-bit to 64-bit computing.

Craig Barrett, CEO of the Santa Clara, Calif., company, last week at the Intel Developer Forum announced plans to offer 64-bit extensions in its 32-bit Xeons. It will start next quarter with a 3.6GHz Xeon, code-named Nocona, and early next year, a multiprocessor Xeon, code-named Potomac, will offer 64-bit capabilities.

The extensions will enable systems with Xeons, like those already equipped with AMD’s Opteron processor, to run 32-bit or 64-bit software. Both use Intel’s standard x86 architecture.

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