Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday said it is developing versions of its Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 operating systems that will support Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s upcoming 64-bit Opteron chip.
Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., said it also is extending support in both those operating systems for AMDs 64-bit Athlon 64 processor for desktop and notebook systems. That chip is scheduled to be launched in September.
Opteron, which is designed for servers and workstations, will be released at an event April 22 in New York City, two days before Microsoft is due to release the Windows Server 2003 system.
Microsofts announcement comes a year after the software giant initially endorsed the AMD architecture, saying it would build an operating system compatible with Opteron. Late last year, Microsoft sent a development release of a 64-bit operating system for Opteron to industry partners.
Marty Seyer, vice president and general manager of AMDs Server Business, called Microsofts announcement “significant.”
“We were counting on this level of endorsement,” Seyer said. “This is a significant statement that says Opteron is a great investment for enterprise customers.”
It also is an indication that Microsoft is hearing a demand from its customers for this Opteron support, he said.
XP, Windows Server to Support AMDs Opteron – Page 2
“We are pleased to help usher in a new era of business value by extending our ongoing investment in 64-bit computing to the AMD platform,” Brian Valentine, senior vice president of Microsofts Windows Division, said in a statement. “Microsofts 64-bit Windows operating systems represent an inflection point leading to higher performance and greater efficiency for businesses and consumers.”
AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., is banking on Opteron to eat into Intel Corp.s dominance in the server space. Intel offers its Xeon chips for 32-bit computing and Itanium for the 64-bit space.
A key differentiator for AMD is that Opteron, unlike Itanium, will be able to run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications, which Seyer said will protect customers current investment in 32-bit technology and enable them to migrate to 64-bit computing gradually.
“We are not forcing customers to abandon their investment,” Seyer said.
In their announcement, Microsoft officials also pointed to this aspect of Opteron, saying the flexibility will enable customers to upgrade as 64-bit applications become available.
AMD has not disclosed the frequencies of the Opteron chips, and Seyer said it will not be mentioned during presentations at the April 22 launch. Instead, AMD will continue arguing that “frequency is only one aspect of performance” and that its chips can handle greater workloads at slower speeds.
However, Seyer said Opteron will come in several models, including ones for one-, two- and eight-way systems.
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