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4/8/2005
12:29 PM
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AMD Set To Launch Dual-Core Opterons

AMD is widely expected to formally launch the first dual-core versions of its popular 64-bit Opteron server processor on April 21. That's the date AMD chairman, Hector Ruiz, is hosting a reception in New York City to celebrate the second anniversary of Opteron's launch.



AMD is widely expected to formally launch the first dual-core versions of its popular 64-bit Opteron server processor on April 21. That's the date AMD chairman, Hector Ruiz, is hosting a reception in New York City to celebrate the second anniversary of Opteron's launch.

More immediately, TechWeb has learned, AMD is expected to brief its key customers on Monday, April 10, at an executive forum it's holding in San Diego for its largest dealers.

While AMD Friday declined to comment on a pending launch announcement, the company confirmed that the processors are already wending their way to market. "We started shipping production samples to our partners in January," said AMD spokeswoman Jane Kovacs in an interview.

Three families of dual-core Opterons are in the works, according to AMD's latest processor roadmap, released on March 10. The first, which will be designated the 100-series, is code-named "Denmark." The 200-series family is code-named "Italy"; the 800-series is called "Egypt."

"The 100 goes for one-way workstations. The 200 is for two-way systems [workstations and servers]. The 800 is for four-way and eight-way," Kovacs said.

The fastest of the dual-core parts will run at a clock speed of 2.2 GHz. That's slower than the 2.6 GHz of the fastest single-core Opterons, but with two CPUs to run multiple threads, the dual-core devices should outperform today's parts.

"I have some 875s," Ann Fried, chairman of Microway, a Plymouth, Mass., AMD partner, confirmed to TechWeb in an interview. Her company builds custom servers and clusters. "This is a great coup for AMD. It's probably going to buy them more business because the [Intel] dual-core Xeon is coming out later."

"There's going to be so much hype about these parts that everybody's going to want them," added Fried.

All the dual-core Opterons will be manufactured using AMD's cutting-edge 90-nm silicon-on-insulator (SOI) fabrication technology. "We're manufacturing out of Fab 30," Kovacs added, referring to AMD's production facility in Dresden, Germany.

AMD is expected to price the dual-core Opterons at slightly less then twice the cost of equivalent single-core parts. AMD declined to comment on pricing.

AMD had originally intended to commence volume shipments by mid-year, a date Kovacs says is still the official target. A launch at the late April event in New York would inch that timing forward by slightly more than two months. The two go hand-in-hand, because AMD says that shipments will commence at the time of the formal launch.

AMD remains in a pitched battle for multi-core mindshare with Intel, with the two companies attempting to one-up each other through a series of announcements and demos. AMD demonstrated a dual-core version of its Athlon 64 desktop processor in February; it's expected to ship in the second half of this year.

This quarter, Intel will begin shipping dual-core versions of its high-end Pentium Extreme Edition processors. Intel is also planning to ship dual-core implementations of its high-end Itanium processor sometime this year. And dual-core versions of its Xeon server processor, which competes against Opteron, are due in the first quarter of 2006.

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