Unlike most areas of the technology business, 64-bit computing has somehow remained immune to the forces of commodity competition.
Most 64-bit systems have historically been tied to proprietary operating systems. Compared with the more widespread x86, these systems only powered a small percentage of corporate computing shops and were relatively pricey. But with the introduction of its 64-bit Opteron processor line earlier this month, Advanced Micro Devices set powerful forces in motion.
First, some historical context is in order.
Itanium was the first operating system-agnostic chip with specific features to support Windows and Linux. The others were company-specific and thus, proprietary operating systems. Unfortunately for Intel, customer adoption went more slowly than the company would have liked following the Itanium processor debut in 2001.