Red Hat to Support AMDs Opteron

Leading Linux vendor will support chipmaker's forthcoming 64-bit Opteron with special release of Advanced Server software.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. on Tuesday announced that Red Hat Inc., a leading Linux vendor, will support the chipmakers upcoming 64-bit Opteron chip with a special release of its Advanced Server software next year.

The 64-bit operating system will also provide support for existing 32-bit applications, taking advantage of one of the most noteworthy features of AMDs Opteron—its flexibility to run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications.

While Microsoft Corp. also has announced it will provide a 64-bit version of its Windows operating system customized for use with the Opteron, the software maker has yet to reveal whether it will port upcoming versions of its .Net software to the processor.

By securing Red Hats support, AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., can assure potential customers for its new processor that the vital software support required to run the chip will be available when Opteron arrives on the market next year.

"The combination … is designed to provide customers enterprise-class servers and workstations with a combination of power and price that has not existed before," said Rich Heye, vice president of platform engineering and infrastructure for AMDs Computation Products Group, in a prepared statement.

AMD will demonstrate the 32-bit Red Hat Linux Advanced Server OS running on an early version of its 64-bit processor during the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco this week.

AMD is scheduled to release its first 64-bit processor, a desktop processor code-named "Clawhammer," late this year. In the first half of 2003, AMD will release its Opteron chip designed for multiprocessor servers. AMD is counting on the Opteron to win over enterprise customers that have so far been largely loyal to using Intel Corp. products.

Intels decision to base its first 64-bit processor, Itanium, on a whole new architecture, rather than the x86 design used in most 32-bit chips today, could provide AMD the opportunity it has long sought to distinguish its products from that of its larger rival.

AMDs decision to extend the x86 architecture used in such popular selling processors as Intels Pentium and AMDs Athlon product lines will enable Opteron to run both existing 32-bit applications as well as more robust 64-bit software. Intels Itanium, by contrast, can run a limited number of 32-bit programs but only at a much slower speed than the chip can run at 64-bits.

As such, AMDs Opteron could attract customers just beginning to transition to 64-bit computing by enabling them to continue using their existing 32-bit applications.

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