AMD Grows Opteron Family

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AMD returned to its close-knit group of friends to introduce its latest round of 2-way and 4-way x86 processors for servers and workstations. The chipmaker Tuesday expanded its offerings for 2-way and 4-way systems, while keeping an eye to the future.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker introduced three new Opteron chips Tuesday: Models 850, 250 and 150, priced at $1,514, $851 and $637, respectively. The chips are geared to compete with Intel's Xeon processors.

While the new processors are designed for the gamut of enterprise configurations, AMD said it decided to start with model 250 for high-performance dual-processor workstations and servers. AMD's partners IBM, Sun Microsystems, HP, and a bevy of other vendors (with the notable exception of Dell with whom AMD has not partnered), said they are ready to ship the new chips. AMD said the other two models -- the 150, for single-processor workstations and entry-level servers, and the model 850, for enterprise-class servers -- should be ready in about 30 days.

The new chips feature Direct Connect Architecture, which directly connects the processors, the memory controller, and the I/O device to the central processor unit. This helps smash bottlenecks inherent in a front-side bus architecture, the company said. The technology also makes it easier to put two cores on a single chipset.

Marty Seyer, AMD's vice president and general manager of the Microprocessor Business Unit, also said the company is close to transitioning its product line to 90-nanometer (nm) manufacturing.

"We have already begun initial production of 90-nm AMD64 processors, and we are on target to begin shipping 90-nm processors for revenue in the third quarter," Seyer said in a statement.

Both the Direct Connect technology and the 90-nm process are expected to help AMD launch its first dual-core processor. Executives with the chipmaker suggested that this launch would come at about the same time as Intel's first dual-core Pentium in 2005.

Seyer's boss, CEO Hector Ruiz, spent the week in Dresden, Germany advancing the company's ability to supply the increased demand. The chief helped open AMD's next-generation 300-millimeter (mm) manufacturing facility, AMD Fab 36. The plant is expected to produce 300 mm silicon test wafers around mid-2005, with the first commercial shipments planned for the first half of 2006.

The Fab 36 plant is expected to hire more than 1,000 employees by 2007. AMD said it plans on investing close to $2.5 billion through the same time frame on the Fab.

The release comes at a critical time, as AMD is gaining traction in the marketplace. A survey last week showed AMD outsold Intel in North American retail desktop sales. AMD is hoping to use that momentum to sell its server chips.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

This article was originally published on May 20, 2004
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