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Gates: Majority of Chips 64-Bit by End of 2005

The 64-bit extensions to x86 instructions pioneered by AMD and adopted by Intel are leading to a "wonderful transition" to 64-bit computing, according to Bill Gates.

"Between now and the end of 2005, we'll go from having very few 64-bit chips out there to virtually 100 percent what AMD ships, and the majority of what Intel ships within less than two years will be 64-bit capable chips," said Gates, chairman and chief software architect at Microsoft, during his keynote at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle.

While giving a nod to the Windows-related 64-bit work done with the Alpha and Intel's Itanium, which was "really pushing 64-bit into the mainstream," Gates called the addition of 64-bit to the x86 instruction set the "simplest way for people to move up."

"AMD pushed forward on that, really promoted that as a good way to go. And now, of course, Intel will have those capabilities as well," Gates said Tuesday.

If Gates is correct that the x86-based group of 64-bit processors will lead an industry-wide charge into 64-bit, that means three forthcoming versions of Windows that have seemed like afterthoughts could in fact become the default operating systems moving forward.

Those operating systems are Windows XP 64-bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems, Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems and Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems. All three are expected to ship in the fourth quarter.

Elaborating on his "wonderful transition" comments, Gates remarked, "You can almost imagine in the past, we would have had to have four or five conferences where the only topic was making this address-space transition here. It's just one of many things we can talk about that's going on in parallel, and going on in a fairly straightforward way."

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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