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Linux (unlike windowz) left i386-only approach behind long time ago. It was resonably ready to run on amd64 before amd64 was actually released. Moreover, linux and gnu are a rapidly evolving systems, full of technological 'biodiversity', so any heavy change is going to hurt them far less than how it can hurt a one-fits-all (i.e. 'cloned') os like mswin.
And keep an eye on the HURD, too... maybe crossing the boundary will give it a boost!
Don't forget 64bit Linux has been around for years. It started off with the port to the DEC Alpha and then the Sun UltraSPARC architectures - both true 64bit platforms.
Linux is not very platform dependent - the Debian distribution alone is released for ten (!) different architectures, plus two that haven't seen an official stable release yet (AMD64 and Hitachi SuperH) but those will probably be labeled "stable" within a year.
Oh yeah, I read somehere very recently that AMD and Linux are very closely intertwined over 64 bit support - the Intel chips would need a lot of tweaking to be a viable option for Linux so AMD it is. Could it be that AMD will take over the server processor market (because of the range of Linux servers) or will it all go titsup and burn out?
i dont have prejudices concerning amds, but they should do something about the heating problem. when they did, i´ll try them, too ...
Errr...they already did.
If you compare the current P4's and the current Athlon XP's you will notice that the Intel chips run noticably hotter. Athlons also have built-in thermal control so if it overheats it will shut down instead of burning like the Athlon Thunderbirds (like in the infamous and tragically outdated Tom's Hardware video), plus all recent motherboards for AMD CPU's that I have used also have thermal control. With temperature control you should feel pretty safe.
Athlons put out more heat than what? Definately not the P4Bs or Cs. P4 run much hotter. I assure you, my stock heat sink on my P4 2.6c was a hefty pos. Much more so than my brothers AMD Barton 2500+. No, they don't have larger fans, unless you consider 60mm huge (especially compared to the 92mm I now have on my Intel to keep it cool :O).
EDIT: As a note. Both me and my bro are running overclocked right now, I have a slk-900u and he has a tt volcano 11. His runs a good 7C cooler than mine.
And the new AMD hammers supposedly run really hot though, as hot as the new intels.
my friend sniper actually asked me about whether linux actually takes advantage of the 64 bit architecture and i had no idea what to tell him. i knew linux would run on it, but does it actually take advantage of the new architecture?