Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 28/10/2003Rumours circulate that Intel may be closer to releasing a 64-bit desktop processor than its letting on.Although the company has denied it, stories about the Yamhill project -- 64-bit extensions to the IA-32 Pentium instruction set, a la AMD -- have been circulating for a while.

Tuesday 28/10/2003
Rumours circulate that Intel may be closer to releasing a 64-bit desktop processor than its letting on.

Although the company has denied it, stories about the Yamhill project -- 64-bit extensions to the IA-32 Pentium instruction set, a la AMD -- have been circulating for a while. The latest whisper is that the silicon to do this may be present in the next processor designs but not enabled, exactly as the company did with hyper-threading.

This runs in parallel with persistent stories that a similar introduction plan is intended for the LaGrande "trusted computing" security stuff -- or even that it's already in the Centrino chipset, just waiting for the magic code to arrive and suddenly enable and become enabled. That would make sense, given that Intel insists you use all of its components before you can call your laptop a Centrino device -- choose someone else's wireless card, and you lose the right.

It's a cunning plan. Intel knows that as soon as it introduces a LaGrande chipset there'll be endless discussion in the media about whether you want to buy into something that has such considerable implications for digital rights management, privacy and so on. But if it just waves a wand and says "Now, you already have it!" then the story is very different. That difficult initial adoption stage happens overnight and without any user decisions whatsoever -- and others, such as Microsoft, can immediately start selling services and products that rely on the technology into a user base that's materialised out of nothing in the twinkling of an eye.

Intel, of course, is saying nothing. But as I've seen the company deny a new product just an hour before announcing it, it's best to season the chips with more than a pinch of salt.

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