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AMD presented its Athlon64 processor to the public in September 2003. This new processor is a 64-bit processor and is therefore able to execute new 64-bit AMD64 programs. It also supports the execution of existing 32-bit x86 programs at the same level of performance.
64-bit programs have a larger address space and offer better performance by providing modern calling conventions and additional registers that are only supported in 64-bit mode.
SUSE LINUX supports the new processor with this product in two ways.
32-bit SUSE LINUX for x86 supports this processor as 32-bit processor just like it supports the AMD Athlon and the Intel Pentium processors.
The new 64-bit SUSE LINUX for AMD64 supports the processor in 64-bit mode. The execution as well as the development of 32-bit x86 programs is still supported.
The output of uname -m is x86_64 for historical reasons. This was the name of the first AMD specification.
From the perspective of the user, hardware relates to the AMD64 just like it does with AMD Athlon systems. The common interfaces and buses are the same on both platforms and are equally supported.
Because the hardware drivers for Linux on AMD64 must be 64-bit drivers, some of them still need to be adapted. While some older cards are currently not functional, the support of current hardware should be the same in 32-bit and 64-bit.