An obvious forced move after AMD's Opteron launch yesterday, Intel has announced they are working on an emulator software for Itanium CPUs that will let them run 32-bit applications more effectively than with the hardware implementation already built in the processors.

According to Intel, this new software called the IA-32 Execution Layer and code-named btrans, will give the forthcoming 1.5GHz Itanium 2 the ability to run 32-bit software about as fast as a 1.5GHz Xeon MP, that is, if they meet their target.

There is a small number of successful stories regarding emulators that I can recall, in any case, Intel will continue to push the 64 bit initiative and leaving 32-bit as a secondary part of the Itanium, indeed, Xeons will remain as their preferred choice for 32-bit software while at the same time try to improve one of Itanium's weaknesses.