After years of buying processor chips exclusively from Intel, it looks as though Dell, the world's biggest PC maker, will also be buying from AMD, Intel's archrival.

Rumours have circulated for years about Dell possibly purchasing chips from AMD, though company executives have never confirmed such a deal. But at a recent conference in the US, AMD's chairman Jerry Sanders III and Dell chief executive Michael Dell (pictured) said AMD's 64bit family of chips, codenamed Hammer, could be the first AMD products to make it into Dell's hardware line-up.

"We are very interested, and we are looking," Dell said about the Hammer chip, during a keynote presentation. "There is not much more to say..." Dell paused, " public."

AMD and Intel are working on 64bit processors that can handle bigger chunks of data than current 32bit processors used in PCs.

AMD's 64bit architecture does not require developers to alter their 32bit software to run on the Hammer chips. Intel's 64bit Itanium chips have a new architecture that will run 32bit software only at reduced speeds.

Intel is reported to be working on another 64bit chip that, like AMD's, would run 32bit software with no penalty. In an interview, Dell indicated it would be this chip — codenamed Yamhill — that would be sold along with Hammer in Dell PCs next year. Dell said he does not expect Itanium to be used in PCs "anytime soon".

Dell will have to make a decision soon on its strategy for using 64-bit chips in PCs because demand for the more powerful processors will take off next year, Sanders said during his presentation.