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.
You live under the shadow of a very big competitor. How do you think Intel will respond to Opteron?
I have no doubt that Intel will do their best to try to diminish the importance of this announcement in the marketplace. That is the nature of the beast. Whatever Intel does, well live with it. Our priority is to make the customer understand the value of the product.
What is the most difficult hurdle you have in talking to potential customers?
AMD has not been a player in this segment before, and the customers want to understand what it means to have a new player in this segment. We want them to understand you should never allow a single supplier [such as Intel] to hold you hostage.
Microsoft Corp. said it will release a version of Windows Server 2003 optimized for Opteron. How do you characterize your relationship with Microsoft?
We are very happy with our relationship. They love the product; they really like it.
So at the Opteron launch, well see a far wider range of support than we are presently aware of?
There has been a tremendous amount of underground support. It will be like a coming-out party for support of Opteron. I think you will see a real floodgate of support coming from our launch.
Intel is the home of Moores Law, which is always held up as the basic driver of the high-tech industry. Can you really take on the company that is the industrys technology fountainhead?
It is an empirical law. It seems to hold true over time, but it is irrelevant now. The question is, what can you do with all these transistors? The cost per transistor is not what should drive the customer decision, but the question is what should you do with all the computing power? How do you get value?
Latest AMD News
For more on Opteron, check out our .
Search for more stories by Jeffrey Burt.