Advanced Micro Devices Inc. offered the first public demonstration today of its upcoming 64-bit Opteron processor running a four-way server at a Taiwan computer show, at which it heralded growing support for the chip that will take on Intel Corp.s Itanium in early 2003.
The demonstration at Computex marked the first public showing of a four-processor AMD system and comes only a year after AMD introduced its first dual-processor system based on its 32-bit Athlon.
AMD, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., is introducing new multiprocessing products in an attempt to snare a share of the Windows-compatible workstation and server markets, where giant chip maker Intel holds a virtual monopoly.
"With this upcoming product, enterprises will have, for the first time, a choice of X86-based, four- to eight-way servers for their critical e-business and database applications," Ed Ellett, vice president of AMDs Computational Products Group, said in a release today.
AMD, which sells the bulk of its chips in consumer PCs, is gambling heavily that enterprise customers will find its first 64-bit Opteron chip more appealing than Intels 64-bit Itanium processor.
Itanium, introduced last year, features a new core architecture that Intel contends will give it unbeatable performance, but the design change resulted in a chip ill-suited to running users existing 32-bit Windows-compatible applications.
By contrast, AMD claims its upcoming Opteron chips, based on the X86 architecture, will be fully compatible with existing 32-bit applications, allowing customers to migrate to 64-bit computing while still utilizing their current business applications.
"This transition will play out slowly over a several-year period, and as it proceeds, users will want to mix their old 32-bit packages with newer 64-bit programs," said industry analyst Nathan Brookwood of Insight 64 in Saratoga, Calif. "The ability of AMDs upcoming eighth-generation processors to handle both 32-bit and 64-bit applications will simplify this migration process."
AMD, which showed off its Opteron processor for the first time in April, plans to release varying versions of the chip, with one targeted at desktops scheduled to hit the market late this year, and two others designed for two-, four- and eight-way servers set for introduction in the first half of 2003.
At Computex, the chip maker showed a prototype server utilizing four Opteron processors and running a 64-bit SuSE Linux operating system. The chip maker did not disclose performance specifications, including making processor speed, at the show. Oftentimes, early demonstrations of new processors feature chips running at far slower speeds than the product will eventually be marketed at.
While Microsoft Corp. has announced it will support Opteron by releasing a Windows operating systems to run on the chip, AMD has yet to secure the backing of major computer makers.
In an effort to promote the appearance of growing support for its chip, AMD today touted that more than 35 component makers have pledged to support Opteron. The list included makers of chip sets, BIOS software and memory chip makers.
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