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9/30/2008
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AMD Says 'Shanghai'-Based Servers To Hit Market In 4Q

The chipmaker said that rollout of its first 45-nm server chip is ahead of schedule and that it learned from its mistakes in launching Barcelona.

Insisting it's learned from the bugs and delays that plagued Barcelona, Advanced Micro Devices on Tuesday said the rollout of its first 45-nanometer server chip, code-named Shanghai, is ahead of schedule and promised that computer servers with the new quad-core processor would be available in the fourth quarter.

AMD met with reporters in San Francisco to assure the market that the company learned from its missteps in launching Barcelona a year ago. The last major server chip rollout was hurt by production delays caused by bugs that prevented the chipmaker from getting Barcelona on a smooth production schedule for more than six months.

As a result of the Barcelona troubles, "there were partners who were a little hesitant in looking at the early silicon of Shanghai," said Patrick M. Patla, general manager of the company's server and workstation division.

To avoid a repeat with Shanghai, AMD worked internally to revamp its testing process and conducted validation testing with its large customers sooner than usual to try to ensure that the chip was ready. As a result, Shanghai-based servers will be available in the fourth quarter of this year, rather than early next year. "We are firing on all cylinders," Patla said.

The first Shanghai chips, which are currently in full production, will be 75-watt processors for mainstream x86 servers. The desktop version, code-named Deneb, is also set to be generally available in the fourth quarter.

In the first quarter of next year, AMD plans to ship a 55-watt Shanghai processor for blades and low-power servers used in large clusters that form the foundation of cloud computing environments. In the same quarter, AMD expects to ship a 105-watt chip for the highest-performing servers.

In shipping Shanghai, AMD is playing catch-up to rival Intel, which has been benefiting from the advantages of moving from a 65-nm to a 45-nm manufacturing process for nearly a year. The numbers refer to the size of the chip's transistors. Getting more of the latter on a single piece of silicon, or die, significantly boosts performance at the same amount of power consumption.

AMD claims Shanghai will deliver a 35% increase in power efficiency and performance over Barcelona. Other advantages include triple the cache, higher clock speeds, and the introduction in the first quarter of HyperTransport 3, a technology that AMD claims will significantly boost communication speeds between silicon.

Shanghai chips will be available for two-, four-, and eight-socket servers, and can plug into the same Barcelona motherboards with only a bios upgrade, Patla said. The backward compatibility and the "speed bump" customers would get from Shanghai are expected to usher a quick transition from Barcelona to the new processor.

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