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AMD Readies Counterattack For Second Half

New processors for servers, desktops, and mobile computing will use DDR2 memory and embedded hardware-assisted virtualization.
Advanced Micro Devices plans its own midyear counterattack as Intel begins to roll out new versions of its processors based on the Core architecture. AMD will refresh its entire portfolio with new chips that promise greater performance and new functionality.

The next-generation AMD processors for servers, desktops, and mobile computing will include the company's first use of DDR2 (Double Data Rate 2) memory and its embedded hardware-assisted virtualization capability, formerly known as Pacifica.

While Intel has previously used DDR2 memory in its processors, Brent Kerby, product marketing manager for AMD, says the company held off until now because DDR2 had been too expensive for the modest gains in performance it provided. As the memory has come down in price and increased in performance from 400 MHz to 667 MHz, Kerby believes the time has come for AMD to make the switch.

AMD also announced a performance boost for its existing Opteron line earlier this week. The new chips increase the clock speed of the dual-core processors from a previous high of 2.4 GHz to 2.6 GHz. The three new Opterons--the 885 for the four- to eight-way server market, the 285 for the two-way market, and the 185 for the one-way and workstation market--will all be available within 30 days.

In the desktop and mobile markets, AMD plans to add DDR2 memory and virtualization to its line of Athlon and Turion processors, respectively.

In addition to adding DDR2 memory and virtualization to its line of Athlon, Athlon FX, and Athlon X2 desktop processors, the company will be transitioning to a new socket in the second quarter, called AM2, that will be used for all the desktop processors, including Sempron, says Teresa de Onis, desktop product and brand manager for AMD.

AMD had previously used up to three different sockets for its desktop products. A single socket will allow computer and motherboard makers to create generic designs that can be more easily upgraded with the specific varieties of AMD desktop products, de Onis says.

In addition, by midyear AMD plans to have fully launched its new consumer media center PC platform under the name of AMD Live! By midyear there should be as many as 100 branded products on the market that meet specifications published by AMD. The AMD Live! Platform is in direct competition with Intel's Viiv platform.

De Onis says AMD Live! will be able to deliver greater performance than the Intel Viiv, and that associated equipment will be priced less than Viiv equipment that has begun to hit the market.

In the second quarter, AMD will release its first dual-core processor for the mobile market, the Turion 64X2. In addition to the dual-core capability, it will also include DDR2 memory and virtualization.

Intel has previously disclosed plans to introduce its first quad-core processors early in 2007. Those quad-core designs will combine two dual-core chips inside a single multichip package. AMD says it will counter with a "native" quad-core offering for the server market by late 2007 that will be designed and manufactured as a monolithic processor.