The Moment of Truth

AMD CEO expects wide support for 64-bit Opteron processor.

Hector Ruiz
This week, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. will unveil its most important product since the company was launched in 1969, according to CEO Hector Ruiz. For the first time in years, AMD is launching a product that takes a clearly different path from its overarching competitor: Intel Corp. The AMD Opteron processor and the AMD64 class of chips it represents will be marketed as a bridge between 32-bit and 64-bit processors. AMD will claim that the Opteron is the only processor compatible with older x86 applications yet possessing the horsepower to migrate up to 64-bit, high-end, corporate solutions. Early this month, Ruiz sat down with eWEEK Editor in Chief Eric Lundquist and Executive Editor Stan Gibson at AMD headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., to discuss the launch.

How would you characterize the importance of the Opteron launch to AMD?

I think it is the most important product launch that AMD has ever made.

Thats a big statement. If the product is that important, what have you done to ensure the success of Opteron?

This is the first time we have evangelized a product and a technology way in advance. We wanted to make sure we had the ecosystem in place. This advance time gave the customers a chance to learn a lot about the product, and, over time, the interest from the customer side has kept increasing and increasing. We are going to be able to have a very complete set of players. And customers have learned that Opteron is really, truly a very easy, backward-compatible 64-bit system. People have learned you dont have to recompile code to go from 32 bits to 64 bits.

But compatibility, while important, is not enough. How will Opteron measure up in performance? And what about software support?

If you look at Opteron and at how people do computing in the enterprise, the benchmarks will show that this is a leadership product. Opteron is going to have a very compelling value. We have strong support from the software community. We did not have to drag them into our camp; they want to be part of Opteron.

And interest from the computer manufacturers? Named and unnamed?

There is not one single computer vendor that is not interested in us; that has always been the case. No matter who you think of, they have had an interest.