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Unreleased AMD Opteron Gets Software Support

AMD says the new chip design will provide a "seamless" upgrade path from its current dual-core implementations to quad-core processors scheduled for availability by midyear 2007.
Advanced Micro Devices is scheduled to formally announce availability of its next-generation Opteron processor next Tuesday, but a group of software vendors on Thursday preannounced their plans to provide new applications to run on the chips.

The Opteron Rev-F processor will be AMD's first server processor to include integrated virtualization and to use faster DDR2 memory. AMD says the new design will also provide a "seamless" upgrade path from its current dual-core implementations to quad-core processors scheduled for availability by midyear 2007.

In an announcement on Thursday, executives from Citrix, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, SWsoft, Virtual Iron, VMware, and XenSource are all quoted as planning to specifically tailor their software to take advantage of the new Opteron processors.

"The next-generation AMD Opteron processor includes additional hardware support that further accentuates the benefits of VMware Infrastructure 3 as a true distributed platform for sharing resources transparently across the enterprise," said Brian Byun, VP of products and alliances at VMware, in a prepared statement.

The Opteron Rev-F introduction will provide AMD's response to Intel's recent Woodcrest server platform, which uses Intel's new Core architecture.

The server market has represented perhaps the most fertile ground for AMD in its battle against Intel to gain share in the x86 processor market. According to Mercury Research, AMD's share of the x86 server processor market grew to 25.9% in the second quarter, up from 22.1% in the first quarter.

Limited supplies of the new Opteron processors have been in the hands of server makers for several weeks, including Hewlett-Packard. DreamWorks Animation SKG has been using new HP xw9400 workstations based on the new Opteron Rev-F processors to create special effects in movies produced by the studio.