Sixty-four-bit computing systems are poised to remake the enterprise network, offering dramatic increases in performance and scalability by virtue of faster computing speeds and increased memory. And it's none too soon, as the deployment of web-based, processor-intensive enterprise applications drives the need for improved performance across all parts of the enterprise LAN and WAN boundaries.
Though now in the minority of the installed base of systems, 64-bit servers with x86-64 capability are showing strong market growth, according to an IDC study, with units, including AMD's Opteron processor, showing an 81 percent growth over the first quarter of 2004. John Humphreys, research manager of IDC's Global Enterprise Server Solutions unit, believes that the recent introduction of Intel's x86-64-based chips will result in robust 64-bit server sales for next year.
Unisys recently reported that 52 percent of its business-intelligence customers last year who purchased high-end Windows servers chose Intel Itanium-2-based Unisys ES7000 servers. "Big data volumes, access to more data sources, and the need for real-time information are creating growing demand for the processing power of 64-bit based servers" said Michael Thomas, vice president of global solutions partners at the firm.
With 64-bit servers and platforms making their way onto the market, application and solution developers are adding 64-bit capability to their offerings. For example, Business Intelligence and real-time-reporting vendor Information Builders announced full support for 64-bit processing in its WebFOCUS product. The firm now offers support for all major 64-bit database-management systems, including Oracle, DB2, Informix, Sybase, Ingres, and Red Brick.
Sixty-four-bit systems also will soon be making their way onto desktop and notebook computers. AMD announced a couple of weeks ago that it achieved a "smooth transition" to a 90-nanometer chip-manufacturing process for low-power Athlon 64-bit chips for thin and lightweight notebook computers. Computer manufacturers are expected to release notebooks with the new 64-bit chips in the next few months.