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Athlon 64 Needs A Killer App

In introducing a low-end version of its Athlon 64 -- the AMD Athlon 64 3000+ -- Advanced Micro Devices is encouraging the adoption of the powerful microprocessor by PC manufacturers, but this begs the eternal question about all processors: where is the software that runs on the 64-bit machine?

Actually, it's out there, but you can't get your hands on it. That is, you can't get the new Windows operating system being developed for the machine by Microsoft unless you are a software developer or have some other reason to qualify as a Beta software user and tester. One expert who has one is Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64, who believes software developers are writing new applications software for the machine.

Maybe a killer app?

"Not that I know of," says Brookwood. "The Beta software is available now. I'm sure software developers are writing applications to it and debugging it. It's not clear to me that a 64-bit killer application has emerged." A so-called "killer application" -- something that would rapidly thrust acceptance of the machine on a wide scale -- has not been sighted, but the thing about killer apps is that they tend to sneak up on computer users until one day they are just there.

Brookwood notes that some users will likely get high satisfaction from the 64-bit Athlon line almost immediately -- gamers, movie editors, and some sophisticated engineering and scientific users. But those are still relatively limited markets.

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