Intel's next generation Xeon processor and future versions of the Prescott Pentium 4 processors will come with 64-bit extensions technology, said Craig Barrett, Intel's chief executive officer, during his opening keynote address at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

Intel's next generation Xeon processor and future versions of the Prescott Pentium 4 processors will come with 64-bit extensions technology, said Craig Barrett, Intel's chief executive officer, during his opening keynote address at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

Barrett demonstrated the technology during his speech on a Dell Dimension XPS workstation with the forthcoming Xeon processors.

Attendees were shown a demonstration of 32-bit and 64-bit airplane design applications running on a single system.

Intel joins Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) in releasing a processor with 64-bit extensions technology, which has attracted the interest of major server vendors such as IBM and Sun.

Intel's 64-bit extension technology will be software compatible with AMD's 64-bit extension technology, Barrett said. There will be a few architectural differences that won't affect application compatibility, he said.

The first Intel chip to take advantage of the 64-bit extensions technology will be one code-named Nocona, the next generation of the Xeon DP processors for workstations and low-end servers. Nocona is scheduled for release in the second quarter. Future versions of both the Prescott processor and the Xeon MP processor will also include this technology.

Intel has been notoriously reluctant to address the issue of 64-bit extensions technology since AMD announced it would release such a product. Intel executives and technical staff members were willing to talk about the subject in theoretical terms, but always hedged their bets on whether the technology would find a market.

With IBM and Sun jumping on board with support for 64-bit extensions in the form of AMD's Opteron server processor, and Hewlett-Packard signaling its interest in 64-bit extensions technology, Intel had to put the technology on its public road map, said Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata.

"This was inevitable. The world is going to move to 64-bit, and the market has indicated there is a groundswell of interest for low-end servers and workstations with this technology," he said.