Data Centers

64-bit processors

Direct from, CEO Tim Lee talked about UNIX/Linux and the 64-bit processor.

On April 27th CEO Tim Lee talked about UNIX/Linux and the 64-bit processor.If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript and we hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting.

On April 27th CEO Tim Lee talked about UNIX/Linux and the 64-bit processor. If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript and we hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting.

Note: TechProGuild edits Guild Meeting transcripts for clarity.

Welcome to the Guild meeting!
MODERATOR: Hello, everyone and welcome to tonight’s Guild Meeting! Our special guest tonight is CEO of, Tim Lee. Tim's going to be talking 64-bit processors tonight. In addition, he's been kind enough to donate tonight’s prize, a CNET nine-port mini-hub, to the member who asks the most interesting questions! So without further adieu, I'd like to welcome Tim Lee! (Applause)

DRBOBM: (clapping) I guess we aren’t talking Windows tonight. <g>

MIKKILUSA: Welcome, Tim.

DRBOBM: Not sure what the questioning should be geared to (out of my league), but Tim, why do you think Linux is taking off? It is not, in my experience, an easy-to-set-up operating system. (But I was raised on MS-DOS.)

TIM LEE: Hello, world!

Let us be amazed
MIKKILUSA: So Tim, tell us the amazing things 64-bit processors are going to bring to us?

TIM LEE: Okay, Mik. 64-bit processors aren't going to help most desktop users for a few years. It's meant for high-end servers until it catches on and more mainstream authors start writing code for the 64-bit processors. But, the 64-bit processor does have many interesting features. Currently, there are only back-end programs such as a Web server.

HERC54: Are there any programs to take advantage of 64-bit processing?

TSEVY: What is the advantage of 64-bit processors over 32-bit processors?

TIM LEE: 32-bit processors can address 4.3 billion bits. 64-bit processors can address 18.4 quintillion bits (which is about 2.1 billion gigabytes).

HERC54: Few examples please.

TSEVY: Is Red Hat 6.0 (Alpha) 64-bit code?

TIM LEE: You can see by just the sheer numbers that a 64-bit processor can access more than 4 billion times more memory. RH 6 is not 64-bit code. There is a project called Trillian which was initiated by HP and is now run by Intel, which is developing a version of Linux to take advantage of the 64-bit processors. A little known fact is that AMD is actually coming out with its own version of a 64-bit processor called the Sledgehammer with some drastic differences from the Titanium. Microsoft is trying to develop its own version of Win for the 64-bit processor but is having tremendous difficulty.

How to be cool
FLORYJ: Since cooling is always an issue with processors, how do 64-bit processors get cool?

TIM LEE: The Trillian Project and some other 64-bit Linux projects are going much faster because of preexisting 64-bit code. Intel will actually be selling its own design of case fans and CPU fans. They'll also require that system vendors equip their systems with micro-forged, high-aspect ratio heat sinks, and more heat pipes and internal case fans. Intel's also requiring that special standards abide for all power supplies that are used with the 64-bit processors.

HERC54: Will 64-bit processors also have the backward mobility to use programs designed for 32-bit processors?

JASONB: Wow. We will probably need to upgrade the cooling units in the server closet then.

TIM LEE: Yes, Herc, they will. However, the Trillian uses the 64-bit instruction set, which will run 32-bit programs but at a cost of performance and speed. That means if you run a 32-bit program, it'll actually be slower on the Titanium. The AMD version of the 64-bit processor will be much better at backwards compatibility because they are incorporating the older x86 instruction set in the processors. So, the Titanium is going to be leading-edge technology, but the Sledgehammer from AMD will be a better bridge for users who need to migrate to 64 bits.

MATT: How will a computer with a 64-bit processor function as a dual boot device—that is, if Windows is not made for a 64-bit processor, but Linux is?

TIM LEE: Applications will run faster in Linux if those apps are made for 64-bit instruction sets. However, Windows 98 will run slower on the Titanium.

MIKKILUSA: If Windows ran any slower, it would go backwards.

Reaching greater lengths
TSEVY: How far out would you project before 64-processors reach the desktop/home users?

TIM LEE: It's like taking a Ferrari off-roading. The truck will kick the Ferrari’s butt. The Ferrari’s just not meant to go off-roading. It will take about two years from now before it'll be ready for the home users. That's if Intel does not delay even further.

HERC54: What will be the approximate cost of a unit for an end user?

JASONB: Are the major business software companies starting to make their products compatible?

TIM LEE: After the Titanium is released, software developers will need about 18 months to begin developing mainstream apps for the 64-bit processors. Intel hasn't released their final pricing; however, when it first comes out, it's expected to run a few thousand dollars. In two years, it will cool down to under $1000. The first generation Titanium will start at 800 MHz.

MATT: Are any of these projects (i.e., the ones for running Linux on a 64-bit chipset) open source? What can the average Joe Linux programmer do to help, for example?

TIM LEE: Yes, Intel is pushing software authors to start writing software geared towards the Titanium. They've been so liberal with demo units that they're almost treating software authors like partners. Yes, Trillian is open source, and the average Joe can keep up with their progress on the web ... let me find their website address ...
Our Guild Meetings feature top-flight professionals leading discussions on interesting and valuable IT issues. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly, or on the Guild Meeting calendar.
TSEVY: Are the demo units complete systems? You can't just put that processor into a BX motherboard, can you?

TIM LEE: Yes, they are the complete units. You cannot put it into a motherboard.

DRBOBM: Do you see many of these machines being sold to the average Joe User. Many of them think Win 9x is hard enough to use, and there are not many Linux/UNIX training areas geared towards the average person. Thoughts on what OS may be on these big boxes when they get to the masses?

TIM LEE: There are a few companies working on the chipsets; however, the MB manufacturers are very, very tight-lipped about their progress. No one wants to overpromise because Intel is likely to delay the release again.

MATT: Hee hee, I don't think that would surprise too many people.

TIM LEE: The Titanium will be affordable in two years, which gives Linux two years to become more user-friendly. Efforts from companies like Eazel ( are blazing new trails. Intel has a whole line of releases coming up. The Titanium is just the first chip. The Titanium is seen as an evaluation chip which everyone will be writing and compiling their software on.

JASONB: What area of business would this chip have the biggest impact on?

TIM LEE: The next chip release is McKinley in 2000/2001. Then Madison, Deerfield. With each one having advantages over the previous. High-end server and workstation market. Web pages can be served up faster because the processor can read more info than before.

How fast is fast?
JASONB: Will the rest of the hardware be able to keep up with that kind of speed, though?

TIM LEE: Intel's plan is to start with an .18 micron chip (Titanium) and eventually work towards the .13 micron chip (Madison). Yes, Internal bus speeds will start at 800 MHz. That's really fast.

JASONB: Wow, I guess so.

TIM LEE: Eventually that will reach 1 GHz.

HERC54: Will these 64-bit processors have dual capabilities?

TIM LEE: Rambus ( is also working on a memory chip that will take advantage of the 800-MHz internal bus. Yes, the Titanium is highly scalable.

MIKKILUSA: So will raid and mirroring and such be the same?

AWILLIS: Will the average user be able to take advantage of the speed? Will the pipe to the home be able to keep up?

TIM LEE: Quite a few system vendors are building servers that will extend well beyond the typical four-way and eight-way processor standard. We are looking at a bright future with possibilities of 16-way and 32-way processors. Raid will remain the same. We'll still be using hard drives. I expect that SCSI will become the de facto standard as we all migrate to a faster computing level.

TIM LEE: The average user will feel the effect immediately; however, he won't be able to get a Titanium. It's going to be a trickle-down effect. As each generation of processors are implemented, the older generation becomes the standard for mainstream. So, we'll see P3s for dirt cheap.

MIKKILUSA: Cool. I have some dirt I will trade for Pent 3.

FLORYJ: Will 64-bit processing be instrumental in the up-and-coming holographic computing?

TIM LEE: The Titanium will support 128 floating point registers along with 128 integer registers, which results in more read/write ports. That translates into better graphic qualities, higher degree of rendering accuracy, and faster speeds of processing. Floryj—hope that answers your questions.

JASONB: Then the gaming crowd should have a blast with the new capabilities of this processor.

FLORYJ: Yes, I know some are skeptical, but holographic technology is not too far from us.

TIM LEE: Yes, quite so. I envision that true VR will be a reality in the near future.

AWILLIS: If we have a monster server on one end and a dirt-cheap P3 at the other, is the weak link going to be the communication companies?

JASONB: That should be fun.

TIM LEE: No, at the rate that bandwidth is being improved and infrastructure being rebuilt, communication companies are aware that this raises the notch for them. I think an interesting battle to watch is the Intel vs. AMD competition.

MATT: It always has been!

TIM LEE: AMD refuses to go quietly, and they are actually beating out Intel in the P3 vs. Athlon market.

JASONB: Pricewise, AMD's value has always beaten Intel.

MATT: Is that really true?

Do you remember?
HERC54: With the 64-bit processor, how does this affect the standard for memory requirements?

TIM LEE: Memory requirements will depend on the application developers. If they write efficient software, then we won't need significantly more memory. Remember, the Titanium can read from memory billions of time faster than the 32-bit processors. So, it takes a Titanium less time to read the same amount of memory than a 32-bit reads it in.

MATT: Hmm.… Well, how do you see your company being affected by all of this, anyway?

FLORYJ: Which means memory chips will have to withstand that speed.

TIM LEE: We will see faster bus memory standard. The Rambus RIMMS may become a standard in two years. Floryj ... the Titanium comes with 4 MB of cache on Level 3, which is going to help out that memory requirement.

What’s in store for next year?
MODERATOR: Tim, can you tell us quickly what to keep an eye on the next 12 months?

AWILLIS: Developers have traditionally used all the memory and resources available not always efficiently.

TIM LEE: Keep an eye for falling processor prices after the Titanium comes out in Q3. Watch for the trickle-down effect. Watch for faster Web servers that will help out the ever-increasing Internet traffic.

Thanks for coming
MODERATOR: I'd like to thank everyone for coming tonight ... a special thanks to our guest Tim Lee, CEO of

Tonight's prizewinner of that really cool Ethernet nine-port hub generously donated by Tim ... is Herc54. Herc54, please send your mailing information to

TIM LEE: Don't worry. There's never a good time to buy a computer. By the time you open the box, a new processor is already out.

TIM LEE: Congrats, HERC ... don't play quake too much on that new hub. :)
Our Guild Meetings feature top-flight professionals leading discussions on interesting and valuable IT issues. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Notes TechMail, or on the Guild Meeting calendar.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox