Folks who read my posts, and I am always very surprised to find that there are some, will know that unlike the majority of people who maintain blogs mostly devoted to technical topics, I never presume that anyone is interested in my personal life. Other readers of William Gibson's writings may be inclined to concur that having a life that is interesting to others is an art form and one that is best left to those who devote themselves to it fulltime, namely celebrities. Yet, in this case, I'm going to deviate from that principle because I think something going on in my life this week is pertinent to the topic of 64-bit personal computing.
Just a little more than two years ago, I bought a Dell Dimension system. I sunk a good bit of money into it and was mightly pleased with it. It has been the best system I have had since my 386, and I have had a lot: I tend to buy a new one every 48 months or so. I used to buy my machines from local clone dealers in Toronto, but I had always been disappointed. (In particular, I am not surprised that Ultinet is out of business.) The Dell was fantastic, and I have told that fact to everyone that would listen at boring length. Still, every two years I get the itch, and 64-bit processors have been out for awhile, so I decided it was time for a new box.
Of course, I was well aware that Dell only ships machines with Intel inside, and honestly, before the Opteron, I had never even dreamed of buying a personal computer with any other brand of processor. However, I loved that last Dell so much that as far as I was concerned, the Dell brand was more important than the particular type of 64-bit processor that would be inside the new machine, so off I went to www.Dell.ca. After confirming the type of Pentium processor that had the x64-technology, I called Dell to confirm that the Pentium option I had my eye on did indeed have that feature. The Dell sales representative confirmed that the processor I was selecting had what Intel calls the "EM64T extension technology," that it was indeed an x64 processor. So, I placed the order. Yet, something was nagging at me. The next morning, I called Intel, then Dell again, and this time got the sad truth: no, none of the Dell machines have the Pentium processors with the EM64T feature yet, and there was no timeline for those coming into Dell's lineup. So, I cancelled my order, and, after considerable wrestling with my loyalty to Dell, placed a bigger order with Alienware for a system with the AMD Athlon FX chip. I'm super-happy with the specs on that system now.