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    Overall, we believe that truly disruptive 64-bit trends are occurring not in high-end computing, but rather in the low and middle ground, sparked by processors that can natively support mixed 32- and 64-bit environments.


  Despite the efforts of some vendors to pigeonhole 64-bit extensions technologies as appropriate for only limited applications, the success of these platforms will depend more on the needs and imaginations of end users than on IT vendor strategizing.


As the Robespierre of the current x86 64-bit extensions revolution, AMD would appear to occupy a catbird seat of its own design.


    By focusing on another exclusive 64-bit architecture, Intel ignored the elemental lesson it taught the rest of the market; that rather than raining down from on high, elemental IT change more often bubbles up from below, causing geological shifts that fundamentally alter long-familiar landscapes.


Linuxís natural affinity for 32-bit x86 applications and its emerging 64-bit capabilities have made it an obvious beneficiary of Opteronís success story.


The real question is how Microsoftís product strategizing will affect the long-term benefits it receives from 64-bit extensions solutions. If Opteron and EM64T find their primary home in HPC and similar applications, they are likely to be a minor blip on Microsoftís radar. If they emerge as fixtures in lower-end, general purpose computing, Redmond could become one of the largest beneficiaries of 64-bit extensions technologies.


    If Opteron-based systems continue to deliver breakthrough performance over time, they are likely, with the help of eager ISVs and willing enterprise customers, to break 64-bit extensions out of the box in which some vendors would prefer they stay.


    Overall, we expect HP to promote EM64T with equal or greater enthusiasm that it does Opteron, and to leverage Microsoft solutions (along with a modicum of Linux) across both platforms for a variety of general and high-performance applications. How these efforts will spark the flickering flame of HPís Enterprise Products Group remains uncertain.


At the end of the day, IBMís limitation of its Opteron solutions might simply reflect brand sensitivity issues. This is not to suggest post hoc, ergo propter hoc reasoning, but by focusing specifically on Opteron-based HPC solutions, IBM mitigates any risks of confusion or overlap with both the JS20 blade products and Intel-based eServer xSeries, a situation which is likely to become even more complex with the arrival of Intelís EM64T technologies.


In a sense, Sun offers a stark lesson in the dangers of successful evangelism. The company rode the notion of UltraSPARC/Solaris superiority to the summit of the dotcom boom, but missed or ignored the marketís slow, inevitable shift towards less costly (if less robust) solutions.


Recent events suggest that the 64-bit extensions technologies are more truly disruptive, and also highlight the fundamental error of Intelís Itanium strategy.


In todayís IT world, market success is a team sport that depends on the skills, spirit, and dedication of individual players, and Opteronís long-term fate will depend as much on the efforts of AMDís partners as it does on AMD itself.


    AMDís decision to deliver unique IT innovations to entirely new classes of customers may qualify as the largest disruption of all.

 

Excerpts from Sageza Competitive Review Welcome to the Revolution: Disruptive Technologies and 64-bit Computing

Please feel free to use these quotes, with attribution to The Sageza Group, Inc.