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IA-32 EL: Itanium 2 systems to process IA32 code better

As you know Itanium processors with IA64 architecture originally and mostly designed for 64-bit applications didn´t perform very well with 32-bit code. Though Intel initially positioned 32-bit apps as something minor to Itanium.

But the real life shows that it´s still early to count 32-bit obsolete even in the class of Itanium 2 systems. On this background it was very interesting to know that Intel officially introduced the IA-32 Execution Layer (EL) software for systems on Itanium 2 and 64-bit Microsoft Windows.

IA-32 EL is integrated into Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition for 64-Bit Itanium-based Systems, Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition for 64-Bit Itanium-based Systems, and Windows XP 64-Bit Edition. By the way, Japanese sources claim IA-32 EL to be available for Linux.

After IA-32 EL is installed, the IA-32 code of processed 32-bit applications is translated into Itanium architecture code for execution. This to some extent resembles codemorphing software (CMS) for on-the-fly IA32 code translation into VLIW code of Transmeta Crusoe/Efficeon.

Is IA-32 EL really effective? According to Michael Fister, Intel´s Senior Vice President and General Manager, Enterprise Platforms Group, the 32-bit processing performance boost reaches 50-70%. With time the IA-32 EL is to be perfected alongside Itanium 2 clock speeds growth.

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