Intel, AMD Unleash New Wares

The chip war between Intel and AMD received some new ammunition Monday with the release of competing x86 64-bit processors. Intel and AMD released new chipsets this week. IBM and HP are the first of the major OEMs to promise product.

Both companies are offering their latest round of chips designed for workhorse servers. Intel has created a Xeon dual processor (DP) with 2 MB of L2 cache, code-named Irwindale, while AMD has released a new Opteron series, including the 852, 452 and 252 chips.

Each vendor has its own set of major OEMs announcing products as well as sales ties with many other leading system manufacturers worldwide.

While both Silicon-Valley-based companies compete ferociously in the 32-bit space, it wasn't until Intel revealed that it would produce 64-bit software extensions for its Penni and Xeon processor family that the x86 64-bit market really turned into a real horse race.

"We've shipped about 2 million 64-bit Xenon since launching in August 2004," Intel spokesman Mike Hooligan told internecine.com. "That is Intel's fastest enterprise ramp ever. So, customer demand for the platform has been extraordinary. Also, we're looking ahead to dual core, and we will be "seeding" dual-core 64-bit Intel Xeon processor-based platforms by the thousands later this year."

AMD says otherwise. It claims Intel's EM64T chip merely adds 64-bit extensibility, and "has the same bottlenecks as previously. They didn't change the architecture, they just changed the instruction set," AMD spokesman Pat Patla told ServerWatch.

In this latest skirmish, Intel is maneuvering its DP and multi-processor (MP) Xeon chips as a complement to its RISC-replacement Itanium processor. Last week, Intel announced it would ship its Xeon multiprocessor, code-named Potomac, with 8 MB L3 cache and its Twin Castle chipset in about 90 days.

AMD is equally aggressive with its Opteron chips for 4-way and 2-way systems. The new Opteron chips blur the lines of Xeon features with AMD's long-awaited support for multimedia and 3D enhancement SSE3 (Streaming SIMD Extensions). AMD is also boasting of support from more than 300 independent software vendors and open source software organizations, with more than 1,000 software packages readily available for its 32-bit backward-compatible chips.

Patla noted that the 852, 452, and 252 chips complete the vendor's transition to 90 nanometer and put it at the dual core starting gate for May 2005, as planned.

The No. 2 chipmaker also unveiled its companion AMD 8132 tunnel chipset, which gives the latest round of Opteron processors PCI-X 2.0 connectivity, better remote access service capabilities, and improved HyperTransport technology.

Nvidia is the first AMD partner on board for the new designs with its graphics add-on. Broadcom and other AMD chipset partners are expected to serve up their compatible technologies in the second quarter of this year.

"You'll also see us really push performance per-watt this year." Margaret Lewis, a software strategy manager with AMD told internetnews.com. "Our customers really understand that power translates into cost and we're offering savings as much as 300 percent over our competition in some configurations."

>> OEM Response

This article was originally published on Feb 15, 2005
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