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    intel to add 64-bit feature to pentium chips SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Intel Corp. (INTC.O: Quote, Profile, Research) , the world's largest chip maker, said on Tuesday it would add 64-bit computing capabilities to its flagship Pentium 4 computer chips this month, allowing more powerful processing of large chunks of data.

    The upgrade comes nearly 18 months after Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD.N: Quote, Profile, Research) introduced the feature in its own desktop chip, the Athlon 64. Intel, whose chips power more than 80 percent of all PCs, has said it would not introduce 64-bit computing into its desktop PC parts until software could take advantage of the extra power.

    While Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) has yet to introduce a 64-bit version of its Windows XP operating system, Intel's vice president of business products group Robert Crooke said: "Certainly we expect that now is the right time for that."

    The 64-bit feature will ship this month in the 600 series Pentium 4 product, the highest-tier part, and be introduced throughout the Pentium 4 product line this year, Crooke said. Intel already ships 64-bit processors with its Xeon and Itanium lines of chips for computer servers.

    A 64-bit computer microprocessor is not necessarily faster than a 32-bit part, but it allows a computer to accommodate more memory and churn through larger files like video clips faster.

    The feature has been particularly popular in the Xeon line. Intel says 80 percent of its Xeon shipments by the end of February will have 64-bit capabilities, with a total of 2 million units shipped in 9 months.

    Intel would not confirm how it would brand its 64-bit capable Pentium 4 chips, but recent trademark filings show the company has prepared a new logo with the "Intel Inside" name surrounded by dots and "VIIV" -- presumably referring to the Roman numerals for 6 and 4 -- below.
 
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