AMD's support for 64 Bit instructions and memory addressing represents a necessary step in processor evolution. Yet operating systems and application support are still lacking so that this still not a must-have feature for the average user today. However, this will likely change with the official availability of the WindowsXP 64 Bit edition, which could see launch early next year.
Now, 64 Bit capabilities are thus becoming more important, which is why Intel will finally introduce its EM64T extensions to the desktop market with the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition for Socket 775 and FSB1066. Until then, the Athlon64 largely has an exclusive hold in the 64 bit mass market.
Meanwhile, AMD has jumped ahead with power-saving features. While Intel has yet to implement Enhanced Speedstep Technology for its Pentium 4's, AMD has already offered Cool & Quiet since the very launch of the Athlon64.
However, Socket 940 platforms are not capable of changing the core clock speed due to their registered memory not being flexible. For both Socket 754 and Socket 939 architectures, Cool & Quiet requires the following:
- BIOS support;
- Cool & Quiet Windows driver installation, adding a tab to the power options;
- Change of Windows power scheme in order to enable 'Minimal Power Management.'
Lastly, AMD supports the NX-bit security features DEP or Data Execution Prevention. After WindowsXP Service Pack 2 is installed DEP allows for memory areas to be marked as non-executable. Here, malicious code, written by buffer overflows, won't be executed any more. However, this feature also requires BIOS support.