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April 21, 2003--In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- AMD Preps 64-bit Product Launch
- Microsoft Preps New Fun Packs for Windows XP
- Microsoft TechEd 2003, June 1-6, 2003, Dallas, TX
- Couldn't Make the Microsoft Mobility Tour Event?
3. CONTACT US
See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
* AMD PREPS 64-BIT PRODUCT LAUNCH
Tomorrow in New York, AMD will unleash its 64-bit AMD Opteron and AMD Athlon 64 processors, the company's most concerted efforts yet to steal market share from microprocessor giant Intel. Unlike previous AMD designs, the AMD Opteron and AMD Athlon 64 represent a technological breakthrough of sorts and don't simply ape Intel chip technology. Instead, the AMD chips provide a new 64-bit runtime environment that's completely compatible with today's 32-bit x86-based OSs and applications. But because the new processors are true 64-bit designs, a new generation of specially written OSs and applications will be able to take advantage of the increased memory space that a 64-bit address space offers.
AMD's approach to 64-bit computing contrasts sharply with that of market-leader Intel. Intel's completely new 64-bit design, the Itanium microprocessor, is incompatible with the x86-based software we use today. The Itanium provides an x86 virtual environment for some backward compatibility, but software running in the virtual environment does so slowly. Also, Itanium products are expensive and control only the most powerful 64-bit servers and high-end workstations. The AMD Opteron and AMD Athlon 64 will target enthusiasts, workstations, and low-end servers, and AMD will use PC-style pricing to ensure that the chips are widely available. And because the new chips are x86-compatible, systems based on them will run x86 software full speed, AMD says.
Contrary to popular belief, 64-bit microprocessors such as the Itanium, AMD Opteron, and AMD Athlon 64 don't necessarily run faster than 32-bit chips with similar clock speeds. Rather, the big advantage of 64-bit chips is a virtually unlimited memory address space, compared with the 4GB address space on most 32-bit systems. Itanium-based Windows Server 2003 systems, for example, can access as much as 512GB of RAM, and that limit is expected to grow in the coming years. The increased memory address space is especially important for massive databases, which can often run in RAM on 64-bit systems, dramatically increasing performance.
The AMD Opteron processor will likely become available within weeks, whereas the desktop-oriented AMD Athlon 64 should ship this fall. If AMD is successful, its new processors will finally usher in an era of 64-bit computing, which, although inevitable, seems to be somewhat stalled due to lackluster adoption of the Itanium. The PC industry made two previous major architectural leaps, from 8/16-bit computing to true 16-bit computing when Intel released its 80286 processor, and from 16-bit computing to 32-bit computing when the company released the 80386. Intel's 486, Pentium family, Celeron family, Xeon family, and Pentium M processors have all been 32-bit designs.
Key to AMD's success, of course, is software support, and Microsoft has pledged to release new 64-bit versions of Windows 2003 and Windows XP that run on AMD's new chips. Beyond that, little is known, though AMD should have some announcements at the product's launch Tuesday. So far, the company has simply said that it expects to see entertainment and gaming software titles take advantage of the technology.
In what is no doubt a purely coincidental move, Intel announced this weekend that it's cutting the prices on its fastest 32-bit chips by as much as 38 percent. The 3GHz Pentium 4 now costs $401, down 32 percent from $589, while the 2.4GHz version is now available for $348, down 38 percent. A newer version of the 3GHz Pentium 4, which uses a faster system bus and RAM than other Pentium 4 designs, costs $417; Intel introduced this chip last week but delayed its release because of a small technical glitch that the company hopes to resolve soon.
* MICROSOFT PREPS NEW FUN PACKS FOR WINDOWS XP
This weekend, Microsoft alerted me to the pending release of four new Fun Packs for Windows XP. The freely downloadable packs are designed to help users be more creative with the built-in digital media and communications features in the company's most recent client OS. These special spring-themed Fun Packs add features and functionality to Windows Media Player (WMP) 9 Series, Windows Movie Maker 2, and the digital photography and Web browsing functionality in XP. There are also two new PowerToys for XP, the company tells me.
Starting Tuesday, April 22, XP users who download the free Fun Packs will receive the following extras:
- a Web blog plug-in, 3-D Alchemy visualizations, and spring-themed 3-D Picture Viz add-ons for WMP 9.
- six new video titles, three music tracks, five music transitions, and 50 sound effects for Windows Movie Maker 2.
- fifteen new greeting card templates for special springtime occasions, such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, weddings, and graduations.
- five new title slides for Plus! Photo Story, part of Microsoft Plus! Digital Media Edition.
- more than 70 Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) Favorites that connect users to a wide range of spring-themed Web sites. Microsoft tells me these sites can help you to find the perfect gift for Mother's Day, buy a digital camera, plan a hike, start a garden, get a start on baseball season, and much more.
- two new Windows XP PowerToys. The Video Screen Saver PowerToy lets you play any Windows Media Video (WMV) file as your XP screensaver, and the Automatic Desktop Wallpaper Changer PowerToy provides revolving desktop-wallpaper functionality.
The new Fun Packs, as well as some recently updated content about using Windows Movie Maker 2 and the other digital media and communications features in XP, will be available Tuesday on the Microsoft Web site ( http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/experiences/create ).
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)
* MICROSOFT TECHED 2003, JUNE 1-6, 2003, DALLAS, TX
Realize your potential at TechEd 2003, Microsoft's premier technical conference. Includes the latest in-depth sessions on the entire .NET developer-language family. Register by April 25 and save $400!
* COULDN'T MAKE THE MICROSOFT MOBILITY TOUR EVENT?
If you were too busy to catch our Microsoft Mobility Tour event in person, now you can view the Webcast archives for free! You'll learn more about the available solutions for PC and mobile devices and discover where mobility marketplace is headed.
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