A bit on 64 bits
By Alan Earls

64-bit computing has been lurking on the sidelines for many years. Now, with the advent of the Intel Itanium processor -- as well as growth in demand for computing power -- 64-bit computing may be one step closer to the mainstream.

Charles Vallhonrat has a veteran's perspective on 64-bits. He's currently the manager of NAS product marketing, Enterprise Storage Group - NAS, at Compaq Computer Corporation, Houston, TX, a company that has long championed 64-bit computing -- both on the Alpha architecture and now on Itanium. Vallhonrat says, "The biggest advantage [to 64-bit computing] is a greatly increased memory addressability, as well as some expansion for multiprocessor support." He believes the bottom line, however, will be a need for even more storage. "In a database world, 64-bits is very compelling," he says.

Perhaps with those opportunities in mind, a fair number of products have hoisted the 64-bit flag recently. Two examples come from Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based QLogic, and from Palo, Alto, Calif.-based Agilent Technologies Inc. QLogic announced "full support" for Itanium in June, including the QLogic ISP12160 Ultra 160 66 MHz SCSI controller chip which, the company notes, has even been designed into Intel's Itanium-based system boards.

Agilent, for its part, announced, also in June, that its Fibre Channel 2 Gb/s host bus adapters (HBAs) are Intel Itanium processor-ready and provide up to 400

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MB/s link speeds.

"The 64-bit Itanium processor-based system really means that now the system will be more capable of feeding the 'hungry' 400MB/sec HBA, the downstream 2GB/sec devices and keeping the pipeline filled," notes Arun Taneja, analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass., "This increases the probability of maintaining the overall throughput of the entire system infrastructure," he adds. b>


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About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, MA.

This was first published in August 2001

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