AMDs Opteron Chip Gets Boost From IBM

IBM's popular DB2 database software will be ported to the chipmaker's upcoming 64-bit Opteron processor.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. on Tuesday announced that IBMs popular DB2 database software will be ported to the chipmakers upcoming 64-bit Opteron processor, set for release in the first half of next year.

Tying the upcoming server chip to one of the leading database-management applications should give AMDs new product greater credibility among enterprise users, who have largely avoided using the chipmakers 32-bit PC and server products.

"The fact that you can run DB2 means that the chip is going to be taken more seriously as a high-end processor," said Tony Iams, an analyst with D.H. Brown Associates Inc.

AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., is positioning its chip to take on rival Intel Corp.s new Itanium product line in the workstation and server market. Both chipmakers are hoping their relatively low-cost offerings and compatibility with Microsoft Corp.s Windows software will help them take share in a market currently dominated by RISC-based chips from Sun Microsystems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM.

High-end, 64-bit computers are the most powerful—and most expensive—systems sold today. Servers featuring multiple 64-bit processors can address massive amounts of memory and process tens of thousands of transactions simultaneously.

AMDs primary selling point for its 64-bit chip is the processors backward compatibility to run existing 32-bit applications. Unlike Intels Itanium processor, which features a whole new architecture, AMDs Opteron is built using the same X86 instruction set at the core of todays 32-bit chips, such as AMDs Athlon XP and Intels Pentium 4 and Xeon processors.

By extending that 32-bit architecture to the 64-bit environment, AMD contends that Opteron customers will be able to continue leveraging their current 32-bit software while transitioning to more robust 64-bit applications. By contrast, Intels Itanium is designed primarily to run on new software specifically optimized for the chip.

IBMs upcoming DB2 Version 8 common client interface architecture will enable 32-bit, X86-based applications to directly access DB2s 64-bit database environment.