I would really appreciate it if someone could take the time to explain to me how 64-bit servers work in a practical environment. I have read a lot about them and know that AMD have special code for Opterons to run 32 bit programs naively, but does this mean that Intel do not?

I am looking at a Dell PowerEdge SC1425 which has one or two 64-bit Intel® Xeon processors in it. This is simply because Dell is offering these boxes for less than most 1U Pentium 4 boxes in the UK at the moment and I need some cheap but fairly fast boxes now.

My question is can I just download centos for x86_64, install it and expect to be able to use it in a production environment, like I would for centos for 32bit?

Can I expect to run other applications, such as Coldfusion MX on it without any problems?

I have been told by a vendor for one piece of software I use that they "only support opterons for 64bit". Is there a way of configuring these chips in the BIOS to emulate 32-bit processors for 6 months or so until this software supports 64-bit architecture?

Finally, to save people posting to say this, I am well aware that Opterons are superior in terms of price/performance but if anyone can tell me where I can get a unit that is more powerful and upgradable than a dual xeon capable, 1U, server with a 2.8GHz Xeon installed and 512mb RAM (12G max) in the UK for £500 then please do let me know via pm!

Many thanks,

Alex Davies