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Intel Taps Transitive For Itanium, Xeon Boost

LONDON — Intel Corp. has opted to work with Transitive Corp., a pioneer of processor virtualization and emulation technology, to allow software code originally written for RISC processors to operate on the Itanium 2 and Xeon processors, Transitive said Tuesday (March 7).

The deal, despite being non-exclusive, is being presented as a booster for the Itanium community and as an attempt by Intel to fight back against rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in the high-end computer and server markets. Intel’s next step could be to use Transitive technology to take communications software—frequently written and compiled for RISC processors such as PowerPC and MIPS—and let it run transparently on Intel processors. Ultimately, it could start designing processors to assist the Transitive software.

Intel (Santa Clara, Calif.) and Transitive (Los Gatos, Calif.) are focusing initial work on developing QuickTransit hardware virtualization products for Itanium and Xeon processors for market release this year, the companies said.

Transitive’s technology is powerful because, by performing appropriate transformations on the fly, it enables applications to run transparently across multiple processor and operating system pairs without any source code or binary changes.

The company was founded in 2000 as a University of Manchester spin-off by Alisdair Rawsthorne, who serves as chief technology officer. It has developed a retargetable, dynamic binary translator, providing compatibility between pairs of different processor instruction sets. Typically QuickTransit achieves 80 percent of the performance of native code, although in some circumstances the translated code can run faster than the native code, the company has found. And the development marked the theoretical end of the microprocessor dependence that had hallmarked the electronics industry in the 1980s and 1990s.

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