Dell Will Join Opteron Party, AMD CEO Says

AMD CEO Hector de Ruiz expects Dell to come into the Opteron fold within the next year.

NEW YORK—Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. have all jumped onto the Opteron bandwagon. Dell Inc. remains the only top-tier server maker yet to adopt the 64-bit processor.

However, if Hector de Ruiz is to be believed, Dell will be signing on, and maybe sooner than later.

At an event here Thursday marking the one-year anniversary of the launch of the processor, Ruiz, chairman and CEO of Opteron maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc., said its in Dells nature to follow industry trends, and as more customers push for Opteron-based systems, Dell will surely jump into the fray. "Ive always thought that Dell does not like to be a leader in technology, that they were a strong follower," said Ruiz, speaking to more than 100 business partners, reporters and analysts. "But I didnt realize they were going to be dead last [with Opteron]."

However, Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, will eventually come around as customer demand swells, he said. Ruiz added that he knew of two major businesses who said they would not buy from Dell because the company doesnt have Opteron-based systems.

"Dell will do what a great company always does," Ruiz said. "It listens to its customers. I believe Dell will be here when we have our two-year anniversary of Opteron."

Dell officials have said they continue to evaluate the processor, but have no immediate plans to incorporate it into any of its servers. Several sources here said they have not heard of any timeline for Dell to use Opteron.

AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., launched Opteron last April, saying it marked a significant departure from what rival Intel Corp. was offering with its 64-bit processor, Itanium. Unlike Itanium, Opteron can run 32-bit x86 applications as well as 64-bit software. This enables customers to protect the millions of dollars invested in their 32-bit applications while beginning down the road to 64-bit computing.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., was the first tier-one OEM to use Opteron, coming out with the eServer 325, a server aimed at the high performance computing space, and earlier this year rolling out the A Pro, an Opteron-based workstation.

Last fall, Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., announced a joint development and marketing deal with AMD, outlining plans to release a suite of Opteron-based products. In February the company rolled out the two-way Sun Fire V20z, and later this year will unveil a four-way system. Sun officials also say they are working to extend the capabilities of Opteron, including finding ways to scale its capabilities into at least the eight-way space, and creating binary compatibility between Solaris and Linux to enable users to run Opteron-based servers running both operating systems together.

Also in February, HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., announced it will support Opteron in its ProLiant line of servers. The company already has the two-way DL145 and four-way DL585, and has plans to come out with blade servers later this year.

AMDs success also convinced Intel to start adding 64-bit extensions to its 32-bit Xeon processors, which Intel will begin introducing later this quarter in its Nocona chip.

But despite the OEM support, AMD has a way to go before it can dent Intels market dominance. According to analyst firm International Data Corp., about 35,000 Opteron-based servers were shipped in 2003, only a fraction of the 4.7 million x86 servers shipped last year.

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