will roll out a server chip similar to one already on the market from
Advanced Micro Devices
, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker said Tuesday at its developers' forum in San Francisco.
Starting in the second quarter, Intel will add a so-called 64-bit extension to its dual-processor Xeon server chip. That means the silicon will be able to crunch 64 bits of data at a time, in addition to its 32-bit capability.
steadily gained traction with big server vendors since it introduced a chip with similar features last year.
Prior to Tuesday's announcement at its twice-yearly convention, many observers expected Intel to address the AMD challenge on 64-bit architecture.
Also in the second quarter, Intel will begin offering 64-bit capability with Prescott, the latest version of the Pentium chip, to be aimed at the workstation market.
Previously, Intel offered only a 64-bit architecture via its high-end Itanium chip. However, Itanium has proven a disappointment on the sales side, despite a tremendous investments in time and dollars by both Intel and co-developer
In comments before the press, Intel CEO Craig Barrett sought to refute one financial analyst's suggestion that the new, 64-bit capable Xeon might cannibalize sales of pricier Itanium. Itanium is "all about reliability, scalability, accessibility -- big number-crunching capability," he said. Itanium would be used for "big iron," or the most data-intensive hardware systems, Barrett continued, while Xeon would be more appropriate for workstations and servers used in smaller-scale computing.
Intel also said
will roll out an operating system to support 64-bit Xeon. Linux vendors
are expected to offer compatible software between the middle of 2004 and the end of the year.
Intel hasn't yet announced a 64-bit capability for PCs; AMD
introduced 64-bit desktop chips last fall.
Intel shares were recently up 64 cents, or 2.1%, to $30.78.