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Itanium - The next big leap for Linux

Processor technology has come a long way. Right from 4 and 8-bit

processors to the latest 32-bit processors. They have all been significant

in powering the computers. Processors also define the architecture and

computing standards. Since the age of 386 processors, Intel has been

lugging on to 32-bit computing. 64-bit computing in going to be the next

leap in computers and 64-bit processors and operating systems are going to

play a significant role in powering the computers of the future.

64-bit computing has been around for a while now. Several of the IT

vendors tout it as a competitive edge. As companies process larger

amounts of data and maintain bigger databases, 64-bit computing may become

a necessity. Most of the 64-bit solutions that were available were

expensive because they were proprietary and few vendors offered solutions

for these. To make things more difficult for IT managers, each of these

64-bit solutions was based on different processors and hence was not

compatible. Each of these vendors has their own 64-Bit processor and their

own operating system to go along with it.

The Intel's upcoming IA-64 processor - Itanium is likely to change all

this. Even though a little late in the day and likely to get delayed

further, Intel is known to define standards. Almost all the vendors are

going to build systems based on this new processor. Most of the vendors

are already working on 64-bit servers and workstations. It will a while

before this kind of processing power is needed at the desktop but it will

definitely be a promising technology for high end servers.

The Itanium will give Linux a big boost and Linux in return will

compliment the Itanium. To fully derive the benefits of 64-bit processors

it is necessary to have 64-bit operating systems and applications. Since

there was already a 64-bit port of Linux available for the Alpha platform,

it wasn't very difficult to port Linux to another 64-bit platform. Linux

was the first OS to boot on this processor and major vendors, in porting

Linux applications to take advantage of the 64-bit processor, are doing a

lot of work. A lot of the enterprise features that were previously seen in

mainframe systems are now expected to be available on the Linux platform.

Intel has also gone a step further and released the internal working of

the yet to be launched processor to the public. This is a very significant