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Vendors Rally Around Dual-Core

By Michael Singer (Send Email)
Posted Apr 25, 2005


AMD's largest hardware partners are stumbling over each other in support of the chipmaker's new dual-core Opteron. IBM, HP, and Sun Microsystems presented a host of wares based on the new chip at last week's AMD event in New York City. IBM, HP, and Sun are dancing to the AMD beat while Dell sits this one out.

AMD's three 800-series processors are ready for shipping for 4- to 8-way servers. The company said its 200-series Opteron be ready for 2-way servers and workstations in May. AMD said it is still on track to deliver its 100-series Opteron in the third quarter of this year.

"We decided to launch our dual-core Opteron for servers and workstations first because it would give us the biggest bang for the buck," Gina Longoria, AMD Opteron 200 Series Product Manager, told internetnews.com. "We expect our customers to really take on dual-core and we see us getting further into the enterprise market because of it."

Dual-core processors, which consist of two cores on one piece of silicon, are widely seen as a promising way to boost computing power, enabling servers, workstations, and PCs to perform more functions simultaneously. Both AMD and Intel are transitioning their PC and server product lines to dual-core chips.

IBM, HP, and Sun are supporting AMD's choice to ship its 800-series Opteron chips first, then its 200-series, and, eventually, its 100-series processors. This way, vendors can entice enterprise customers with blade servers, workstations, and 4-way servers right from the start.

Because the new processor is pin-compatible with the current single-core Opteron, customers can order product now and have it shipped by May, each of the companies told internetnews.com.

In addition, HP's and Sun's reseller partnerships with AMD let them sell the chips directly to customers and swap out the old processor for the new one. However, both HP and Sun execs said they expect the majority of their customers to just buy new systems.

Each of the computer makers has a vested interest in the success of AMD's next-generation Opteron chips. Each helped contribute to its architecture or its proliferation in the market. For example, IBM co-developed silicon on insulator technology with AMD, an important component in Opteron's ability to run at lower wattages. IBM was also the first to ship Opteron-based systems two years ago.

Sun signed its strategic partnership with AMD in 2003 and uses Opteron as its volume x86 server platform of choice. The companies are reportedly collaborating on Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim's upcoming servers, code-named Galaxy. Sun also uses AMD products to help it run test programs for its new relationship with Microsoft.

HP is using dual-core AMD chips as a sales weapon against rival Dell. Dell is currently an all-Intel shop and remains uncommitted to AMD. The computer and printer maker said it is proud of the fact that AMD first demonstrated its dual-core processor on an HP system late last year.

Dual-core processors, which consist of two cores on one piece of silicon, are widely seen as a promising way to boost computing power, enabling servers, workstations, and PCs to perform more functions simultaneously. Both AMD and Intel have opted for the dual-core path to meet the continuing need for faster processing cycles, as single-core silicon is beginning to hit a wall of heat dissipation and power consumption.

Intel and AMD have both said they expect the transition of their entire product lines to dual-core architectures to wrap up between now and 2007.

>> Dual Core OEMs

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