AMD64 to Span the Enterprise

AMD positions its 64-bit processor architecture to power "the most powerful computers in the back office to the most portable device you can imagine."

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. intends to position its AMD64 64-bit processor architecture as the ultimate enterprise solution, singling out Intel Corp.s disparate architectures as a weakness.

In an odd lunchtime meeting with customers and partners that was part strategy session, part revival and part historical analysis, analysts compared AMDs Opteron to steel mini-mills, able to process rebar for a fraction of the cost of their more integrated cousins.

Those mini-mills, said Mark Melenovsky, vice president of server research at International Data Corp., were—like Opteron—a disruptive innovation, capable of serving a new customer base with a new set of product offerings. By penetrating the high-performance computing sector with clustered Opteron design wins, he said, AMD could eventually break into the commercial enterprise space and from there into the small and medium-size business market.

"Opteron has the potential to push the customer sets access to 64-bit capability across the entire framework," Melenovsky said.

When the Athlon 64 is released this September for the PC market, AMD will have the opportunity to market a single solution to the mobile, PC and server spaces. Intels Itanium processor uses a different architecture than the Pentium 4 desktop and mobile processors, and requires a different chipset infrastructure.

"You will see a lot of AMD and its partners positioning AMD64," the formal name for the Opteron and Athlon 64 architecture, said Marty Seyer, vice president and general manager of AMDs Microprocessor Business Unit. "We intend to push and position AMD64 top to bottom within the enterprise, to span the enterprise from the most powerful computers in the back office to the most portable device you can imagine. We can scale up and scale down, and youll hear that message at the September launch."

Customers attending the luncheon cautiously approved AMDs strategy, but said AMDs future is far less of an academic challenge than analysts and executives make it out to be.

"IBM will be the key," said Paul Shay, president of the Arima Group of North America, speaking of AMDs only publicly announced top-tier design win to date. On July 30, IBM announced a single Opteron-based server, the eServer 325, and disclosed plans for a workstation later next year.

Melenovsky said AMD cannot continue to sell Opterons into the high-performance computing market without Fortune 500 customers. The company also needs a few key enterprise customers to help get the ball rolling, he said.

A representative from Dell attended the meeting, although he said was only there to "check out" the Opteron and see what new initiatives AMD had come up with. He declined to comment on Dells plans.