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XP Awaits 64Bit Drivers! - 9/8/2004 4:49:10 PM   

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Firms hoping to start beta testing the latest 64bit version of Windows, released last month, could face hardware problems because of a lack of vital driver software to support the new 64bit chipsets.

IT Week Labs tested the latest 64bit XP beta for the new 64bit x86 chips and found several important drivers missing, including those for a system interrupt controller and Intel's flagship 82546GB dual-port gigabit network interface card. Intel said the drivers would be included in the first production version of Windows Server for Extended Memory systems. Currently the drivers are only available to major Intel customers that sign a non-disclosure agreement.

The setback follows Microsoft's announcement late last month that the full release of this version of Windows had been postponed until the first half of next year.

The new EM64T processor is Intel's first x86 processor to support 64bit memory addresses and demand-based switching, a feature that varies the speed of the processor depending on the amount of work it is doing. Intel plans to add the 64bit addressing capability to all its Xeon chips next year; and the latest Pentium 4 chips, codenamed Prescott, also include this functionality, though it is generally disabled.

Firms will welcome the new 64bit features, but our tests indicate they may have a long wait before those features are supported by Windows software. We tested a new server system fitted with two 3.6GHz EM64T processors and the new Intel Tumwater E7525 chipset to support the new features, and saw that the latest 64bit beta of Windows still lacks vital driver software needed to make a functional server system.

Alan Priestley, strategic marketing manager for Intel enterprise marketing group, said that the latest Windows beta was released primarily to fix a bug that had prevented earlier versions from correctly identifying the new 64bit Xeon chips.

Source : ITWeek
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