64-bit processors: Does the manufacturer make a difference?

Having an Intel or AMD processor preference isn't uncommon for IT pros, but VARs need to put aside their personal feelings for what best suits the customer. This break down discusses the difference between 64-bit and 32-bit processors made by competing manufacturers.

Channel take away: Most IT pros have an allegiance to either Intel or AMD processors, but not both. While VARs may have a personal preference, it is important to approach a client's enterprise without a personal bias interfering with what is best for the job. Brien M. Posey discusses the differences between 32-bit and 64-bit processors and comments on how each manufacturer's product will affect how the machine functions.

The lowdown on 64-bit

There are major architectural differences between Intel and AMD's 64-bit machines.

The primary difference between the two chips is that Intel's Itanium line of processors is a pure 64-bit processor that will only run 64-bit code while AMD's Opteron and Athalon 64 processors are 32-bit/64-bit hybrids. AMD's processors can therefore natively run 32-bit and 64-bit code. The implications of this are huge.

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AMD machines have the advantage of running either a 64-bit version of Windows or a 32-bit version, which means that companies can invest in 64-bit hardware today, but don't actually have to make the transition to a 64-bit operating system until they are ready.

The fact that Intel machines can only run 64-bit code doesn't mean that the machines can't run 32-bit applications. The 64-bit version of Windows has a built-in emulator called WOW64 (which stands for Windows 32 On Windows 64). The emulator is completely transparent. You don't have to do anything special to run 32-bit applications.

Read the rest of Posey's technical advice at SearchWinComputing.com.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. He has served as the chief information officer for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, he has written for Microsoft, CNET, ZDNet, TechTarget, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies.

This was first published in March 2007

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