RealTime IT News

New Intel Tools Run on Rival Chips

Intel released a new suite of developers' tools it hopes will increase the amount of people using its 64-bit technology.

But while the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant regularly supplies its developers with compilers, libraries and analyzers, Intel is taking it one step further by making its testing software compatible with other backwards-compatible chips made by rivals like AMD , the company said Monday.

"We have been developing our 64-bit strategy for some time, starting with our expertise with Itanium. We have a lot of experience in compilers and testing tools," James Reinders, director of marketing, Intel Software Products Division, told internetnews.com. "This new batch of tools helps customers make the choice to take the leap from 32-bit apps to 64-bit."

Reinders said the fight basically comes down to AMD's Opteron processor and Intel's 90-nanometer Xeon processor that debuted earlier this year, code-named Nocona. OEMs have been sizing the two processors against each other, with Sun in the AMD camp, Dell on Intel's side and HP in the middle. Reinders said Intel actually has the advantage, despite public perception at the time that Intel was playing catch-up with the great x86 64-bit migration.

"I haven't run into any customers that think we are playing catch-up. In fact, we have an edge, being the volume sales leader," he said.

Intel may extend that lead, as blade servers based on a revised Nocona core are expected to debut in November.

The tool sets are based on a combination of Itanium and Pentium sources. For example, Intel's generic optimizations have their roots in Itanium, while the code generator had its beginnings in Pentium, Reinders said. A limited amount of the compilers are still written in Assembly language , with the majority moving to advanced computer languages like C and C++.

Intel also included additional new features in version 8.1 of its compilers. Intel's C++ Compiler for Linux, version 8.1, includes the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) and the C Developers Toolkit for use with the Intel 32-bit C++ compiler. Intel said it also enhanced the Intel Code Coverage Tool and Intel Test Prioritization Tool to speed application testing. The Compilers were improved to help developers build multi-threaded applications that take advantage of Hyper-Threading Technology.

With all of the enhancements to Intel's testing platforms, developers should be churning out new applications on an hourly basis, but that is not the case, according to Reinders. The biggest holdup is the operating system -- in this case, Microsoft Windows "Longhorn," which is not due until 2006. Other system platforms by companies like Oracle and SAP are available in their x86 64-bit state, but Reinders said Microsoft is key to the ecosystem.

"The first and most important item is to have stable tools ready with support," Reinders said. "The next has to be operating systems that are mature. It is a matter of time. This is something we've gone through with Itanium, and we are going to go through the same thing for EM64T products. We will wait and watch the ecosystem develop, yet we will prime the pump with chips like [Xeon] Nocona, which we see as a big motivator."

In addition to its advanced software tools, Intel is doing outreach and EM64T evangelism through Intel Solution Services, where the chipmaker's consultants work side-by-side with developers.